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Micrometer Shadow Board on an A frame

VMT develop, design, and produce bespoke Shadow Board solutions for a many applications and industries. Shadow boards, a key Visual Management tool, can be used for visually storing hand tools, machine changeover parts, critical spares, consumables and more.

We have a long history of supplying bespoke Shadow Boards for factories, warehouses, train maintenance depots and more.

We thought it would be useful for us to share some of the key benefits we have either seen ourselves or our clients tell us they have experienced, here are 5 reasons to use a shadow board

1. Reduce time searching for tools with a Shadow Board

Many of our clients engage with us as they have become so busy delivering the service or product to their client that their internal processes and control have begun to suffer. This can be especially true of control of tooling.

In busy factories teams may share tools and when there is no clear home location for tooling it can be difficult to track down that in demand tool, this can lead to frustration and lost time for the user as they spend non value-added time looking for the tool.

This is never more evident than in tool drawers that have no foam visual tool control in place, where trying to find one tool amongst many is very difficult – we have even produced a video to outline this very point.

Placing tools and parts on a Shadow Board means that tools always have a visible home location (and if the behaviours are in place) once a tool is no longer in use it should be easy to locate for the user saving the user time when he might have been searching.

2. Reduce SMED machine part changeover times.

The use of a Shadow Board for SMED processes allows a visual confirmation before a machine or piece of equipment is stopped that the all the changeover parts (for the next product) are available and ready before the machine is switched off. This minimises the downtime of the machine and helps with the target of reducing the minutes taken to complete the changeover to single minutes.

Often, we supply SMED Shadow Boards as mobile units so they can be positioned close to the machine so that any movement required to move (sometimes heavy) parts is minimised. The use of a hand tool Shadow Board close to (sometimes inside the machine guarding) the changeover point also ensures any tooling required to complete the changeover are always available exactly when needed and there is no further delay while the operator locates a particular tool.

3. Follow key Lean 5S principles

Integrating 5S into your organisation for the first time is never easy as operators need to think differently and be prepared to modify their behaviours which have in many cases taken years of formation. The use of a Shadow Board supports the introduction of the 5S process by making it easier for operators to follow the key principles. 

Once only the tools or kit to complete a job have been identified and any unnecessary items removed, the useful items can be SET (Second S) in place and the process will be SUSTAINED (Fifth S) as the items will always have a home where they are visually stored. When Shadow Boards are implemented across an organisation it also helps to ensure a STANDARDISED (Fourth S) approach to tool storage, helping operators to integrate when they are moved or switched across processes.

4. Integrate Visual Management into your workplace

When Visual Management has been well integrated into a workplace, it should be easy to “read” the workplace. A visitor walking into a particular workplace can understand what is happening, what the performance is like, how the process is performed and what items are needed to perform the process.

 Storing tools and equipment with a Shadow Board helps with the last point of ensuring that the tools needed to perform the process are clearly identifiable and easy to locate. Visual Management is also intended to trigger an action in a process (a green traffic light triggers the movement of traffic), in our case a shadow of a missing tool triggers a user or operator to place a tool that has been in use but is no longer required, back on the Shadow Board and cover the shadow.

Shadow Boards on a wall, holding lifting tackle, chains, slings and clamps

5. Increase lifespan of tooling and equipment with a Shadow Board

Firstly, we have had feedback from many of our clients who have rolled out Shadow Boards across their organisation that they have reduced expenditure of tooling and consumables. When tools have a home, especially a visual home it is much less likely for the tools to go missing. Also, if the culture is right, the use of a Shadow Board means that effort will be made to locate the missing tool, without the use of a Shadow Board it can be easy to give up easily and order a new item. 

Secondly, storing tools and equipment on a shadow board means that when not in use the item is safely stored away from possible contamination or impact from other tools being dropped on them as might be seen in tool drawers (without visual tool control). This gives peace of mind to an organisation that equipment that is either carefully calibrated (measuring equipment) or safety critical (lifting equipment) is looked after responsibly. 

Hopefully, this blog has been useful in outlining why many of the UKs largest manufacturing companies have engaged with Visual Management Technology to supply them with market leading Shadow Board solutions. If you would like to learn more please visit our shadow boards page or get in touch