Communicating efficiently, getting relevant messages across other people is always difficult, but it gets an even bigger challenge when you need to do it in an industrial facility, where machinery, materials and people are all over the place in full bustle.
And people like Denise a 26 years old safety and hygiene manager in a big production plant near her home town in Lyon, France Even though she has now grown and learned a lot, in her first job she struggled to find the best way to display and get across to her fellow colleagues relevant information- such as warnings and guides about safety precautions, efficient work methods and tips to maintain each workstation clean and organized.
There were too many setbacks in the production workflow. Accidents, mishandling of key machinery and the loss of essential equipment were unfortunately frequent problems that were negatively impacting company results.
After trying informative emails and meetings, presentations and regularsignage and displays, the results were not even close to positive. So Denise decided to do some research, aided by her colleagues in the Lean department, and started to understand in depth the benefits of a visual workplace. The only problem was that although she now had a clear vision of how, when and what to communicate, she was still not achieving the results she expected and that meant that she still needed to find the best display systems to clearly highlight the messages and essential information she needed her colleagues to instantly apprehend.
Choosing the Right Kind of Displays
This task was clearly hard for Denise, since “highly resistant displays that are able to comply with the requirements of demanding industrial spaces were hard to find in the market”. Visual communication tools constructed with high quality resistant materials to avoid deterioration or use hazards that might come from intensive use are not easily accessible. The search went on and finally Denise found an online retailer that sold a Whiteboard that, besides all the advantages this practical communication tool usually already offers, could assure visual efficiency in the most challenging of the workspaces. Its purpose was clearly understood at first glance, due to the yellow highlight frame that immediately remitted to a place where only crucial information is displayed. People instantly think important warning, security and safety instructions, mandatory standards that one must read and understand.
Maximizing Visibility and Improving Communication
This was a major finding for Denise, since that led her to discover that this whiteboard was part of an entire range of useful, sturdy highly visible displays. Having found what she expected were the perfect displaying solution, Denise and her colleagues soon started to:
- Install permanent safety instructions and mandatory instructions on protection equipment policies and best practices in all entrances to the manufacturing floor, using lockable display cases, as these are places where a lot of people meet and pass by.
- Mount magnetic and notice boards on the factory walls near machinery and workstations with safety warnings, cleaning and handling instructions. Large communal boards in each working area were perfect to convey several striking health and safety statistics, “days since last accident” and graphs showing the number of reported near misses. Updating the board on an ongoing basis helped further entrench the need to focus on safety in the minds the company’s workforce.
- Create team meeting points where customized whiteboards with printed team schedules, goals and accomplishments are daily updated. By publicly posting team schedules and performance data in a location where all employees passed several times per day, they eliminated rumors about workplace operations and free up significant employee energy which could then be focused on what they do best.
- Display latest company performance and relevant messages in a large communal whiteboard installed in common or entrance areas, as well as several big mobile revolving boards at every workstation, allowing employees to easily digest them as a natural part of the working day. By providing the information which management would like to convey to all parties, they were able to maintain their presence and voice without direct involvement. the use of a trio board made it easier to save space when needed in the immediate surroundings of the board, and the mobile revolving solution allowed to move the information away from workstations whenever employees needed extra space or to reorganize their work space.
- Inform staff on upcoming rounds of maintenance and audits conducted by third party contractors through the use of a communal noticeboard in a central place, ideal to focus employee’s attention.
- To focus employees on recycling unwanted materials like off cuts and breakages so as to reduce waste, she implemented a clearly accessible area centered around a large magnetic board where visual reminder such as charts alerting everybody on the need to reduce waste. Displaying weekly and monthly totals in an easy to digest visual form like a pie chart proved to be a great way to boost employee engagement.
Effective Communication Leads to Productivity Increase
With the whole team never having to look far for how the company’s waste targets were progressing Denise’s team was quickly able to foster a culture in which employees all pull in one direction for a common goal.
With appropriate signage displayed at key areas across the premises where accidents were most likely to occur they were able to provide an effective yet unobtrusive reminder to all staff of the need to abide by best practices.
Safety and hygiene levels – as well as productivity and engagement - started to increase exponentially and Denise was not surprised to find out later on that the display solutions that helped her achieve her goals were designed and developed by a manufacturer specialized in visual communication that, as a manufacturer, clearly understood the needs and challenges that come from managing an industrial facility.
By evaluating thoroughly the problems and setbacks, and devoting some time searching for the most suitable solution, Denise finally accomplished to implement a visually efficient workplace where vital information is highly visible, at the right place, making sure what is supposed to happen does, on time, every time!