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Improving Business Operations Through Visual Communication

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If you want to improve business operations, a great secret may be better signage. That’s the topic of an article in Manufacturing Automation, one of the top journals in the field.

The piece is by Jack Rubinger and Dave Hogg, and opens with the following advice:

Manufacturing environments constantly evolve to address rapidly changing customer needs, which means workstations and areas within the plant are constantly impacted by transitions, additions, and moves. Manufacturing leadership that emphasizes visual communications lends a new perspective on lean manufacturing and helps improve operational flow.

It might seem strange to think that signs could have a significant impact on productivity. But think about this technology outside of a company: don’t signs make you a better driver, help you to find your way in unfamiliar buildings, and let you know how to interact when visiting a retail location?

Improving Operational Productivity: Signs in a Store

© Flickr user celesteh

The article also feature a quote from our own Robby Slaughter:

Productivity and workflow expert Robby Slaughter, at Indianapolis-based AccelaWork, focuses on warehouse and inventory storage. He has seen many clients ignore some of the most obvious handling costs.

“If you stack palettes as they arrive,” he said, “you will have to un-stack them each time to make a delivery to ensure that aging inventory is given priority. Alternately, if you create zones for each period of time, you’ll be constantly moving your entire inventory from one section to the next as time passes. The best approach is to update the signage rather than move the product.” Magnetic labels that can be easily moved are an excellent option for warehouses.

Signs are a great way to improve operational efficiency by providing information to stakeholders. They tell individuals where to go, what to do, and what to avoid.

But while these techniques can help your company improve productivity, they can also negatively impact morale. Here on The Methodology Blog, we’ve covered some examples of sarcastic signs in the workplace. Visual communication, just like any other form of communication, requires working to understand then needs of stakeholders and designing a message that is well-received.

Whether you’re working on the factory floor, the office, a retail site or even in the field, consider improving operational productivity through visual communication. Or in other words, no matter what you do, there’s a good chance that a good sign might help.

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