Guest Blog Post by Kelsey Rzepecki,
Graphic Products

Traditional production and logistics processes are becoming obsolete in the face of Industry 4.0. Modern facilities are slowly but surely incorporating more automation and other technology to transform logistics. Now is the time for plants to re-evaluate current processes and identify opportunities to improve production efficiency to be ready for the inevitable changes ahead.

Preparing for the Future

Automation is not as far-off in the future as some may think. More than 10% of U.S. warehouses were already using automated warehousing equipment (such as goods-to-person technology) as of 2016[KR1] . Rising labor costs and rent is encouraging business owners to automate to help bring down costs with more and more companies beginning to make the switch.

Although technology is not a solve-all solution—it’s made to enhance and complement workers. Keeping up with workplace safety, compliance, and general communication is essential to maintain successful operations. You can improve productivity in all aspects of the supply chain process by creating a visual workplace to identify where crucial information is needed to support workers.

21% of supply chain professionals say that visibility is their biggest organization challenge (Statista). Improving operational efficiency starting from the warehouse floor will work to improve clarity among each step of your entire operations. Analyze the current workflow by using value stream mapping (VSM) as a method to spot and solve problems. Pinpoint problem areas and eliminate steps that don’t add value to the result. Then, use the 5S methodology as a tool to implement thoughtful visuals to better organize the workflow.

Visual Solutions Tips & Strategies

Simple visual cues and signals can help make the workday easier for everyone. A thoughtful visual management strategy can improve all aspects of your operation, so workers get the right information at the right time to do their jobs. Here are ideas to get you going to start transforming your plant’s productivity:

  • Create 5S labels for supplies, operational instructions to streamline tasks, and to outline various quality assurance steps and work areas on the shop floor.
  • Implement custom signage to improve understanding of site-specific procedures and emphasize hazards. Address areas that may get overlooked.
  • Improve visibility to dangerous areas and boundaries using high-visibility reflective or fluorescent signs and markings. Identify areas that have hazards that may go unseen.
  • Support lean systems with floor marking. Mark aisles to direct foot and vehicle traffic, designate boundaries, and define workspaces in work cells so workers can easily recognize the status of incoming and outgoing work in the area.
  • Post clear warning signs to address PPE-required work areas and active work areas to reduce preventable accidents to keep workers and visitors safe.

As the workplace evolves, you can feel more confident knowing you have a visual safety strategy in place to make the transition to Industry 4.0 smoother for everyone.

Kelsey Rzepecki writes for Graphic Products, makers of the DuraLabel line of industrial label and sign printers. For more information about customized visual communication, visit www.GraphicProducts.com or call 800.788.5572.