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close up of a shadow boards, showing hand tools, with some tooling missing, to show a empty white shadow behind.


Shadow Boards follows the key Lean 5S principle of setting a place for tools and equipment and help missing tools and equipment (that might alternatively be chaotically placed in drawers or worktops) to be spotted in seconds.

We have supplied to world class Lean organisations in many sectors and applications. The use of a Shadow board is proven to reduce time taken searching for missing tools resulting in a positive impact on Takt, cycle and processing times.


A Place for Everything and Everything in it’s Place.

Right tool, Right time, Right Place.

VMT tool Shadow Boards will help your teams and wider business to:

Reduce time searching for missing tools

Reduce SMED machine part changeover times

Follow key Lean 5S principles (Set in order)

Integrate Visual Management into your workplace

Increase lifespan of tooling & equipment

Make efficient working a habit

shadow board on a workshop wall, holding tools like hammers, spanner, screwdrivers and saws.

Tooling Shadow Boards

Proven to save time searching for tools, hand tool Shadow Boards make it easy to identify missing items from a distance, a fundamental lean visual management technique.

They can also can be supplied on mobile frames ensuring right tool, right place, right time.  

Change Over / Spare Parts

Keep operationally critical spare parts visually stored close to process, reducing potential downtime in the event of equipment failure.

Minimise wasted time in the SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) process by locating the changeover parts close to the process in an organised and logical layout ready for switch out.

For more information about Changeover and SMED see our knowledge page.

shadow board on a A frame, holding changeover parts
Shadow Boards on a wall, holding lifting tackle, chains, slings and clamps

Lifting Tackle Shadow Boards

LOLER regulations require lifting equipment to be appropriately stored, marked and inspected.

They assist the user in locating the equipment in the correct place so the item is always available when not in use.

Calibrated Tools

Tooling or measuring equipment that needs to be carefully calibrated to give accurate readings should be stored carefully and responsibly.

The use of Shadow Boards to store this type of equipment means that other items can’t be piled on top and the equipment is held and positioned the same way every time when not in use.

We also ensure that the tooling or equipment is safely stored on the Shadow Board with no risk of the item falling off with appropriate fixings or placing the board on an angled A Frame.
Micrometer Shadow Board on an A frame
shadow board with hand tooling such as hammers, spanners, screwdrivers inside a cabinet with a sliding door.


Commonly supplied with a 5S Shadow Board our clear panel cabinets are supplied fully assembled and custom built to size and specification. Our cabinets create visual security for assets and equipment that are often locked away in working environments where there are temporary staff or contractors working on site.

They provide an added layer of shelter protection from harsh working environments to sensitive electronic or precisely calibrated tools.

Utilising visual storage helps to foster a culture of care for equipment. Clear panels allow for quick visual checks on the location of tools and equipment.


VMT has over 10 years in advising, developing designs, manufacture and supply of Shadow Boards. We can supply Shadow Boards to visually store hand tooling, specialist tooling, machine parts and more.

We thought it might be useful to share some answers to the many questions we get asked about our Shadow Boards.

There are a few options for how we develop the design for your Shadow Board.

 – Send the tools to VMT – If you have tools that you can be without or are buying in new tools – you can send them directly to us or we can arrange to collect.

This gives the us the benefit of being able to check the fit of each tool on the shadow board before we despatch. We are also happy to buy in tools if you would like us to supply the tools to go with your Board.

– Send us the photo information we need. This works well if you have a relatively small and simple selection of hand tools that you wish to store on your Shadow Board.

We will send you in the post a printed grid board and instructions for how to correctly photograph the tools for accurate Board design.

–  Invite VMT to site. Invite a VMT representative to your facility and we will audit the tooling to ensure we have everything we need to accurately design your Board.

Depending on your location and the time required onsite we might have to charge a little extra for this option

We use a combination of materials for our Shadow Boards, and we choose the best material option suited to the application.

Most of our Boards are based on applying a laminated vinyl print to an Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) base. ACM is long lasting and durable whilst easy to work with, providing reassurance if your maintenance teams are to fix the Shadow Board to existing wall space. If there is to be heavier items (such as lifting tackle or large torque wrenches) to be stored on the  Board then 3mm aluminium sheet provides and hard wearing and heavy-duty base material. For environments where tooling might be ‘roughly’ handled, we recommend applying a protection to the face of your Shadow Board to eliminate any potential scratches to the face of the board. Polycarbonate provides a cost effective, durable and visually pleasing option.

We use a combination of fixings to store the tools onto the Board. Hardened Steel Dowels with an applied rubber grip ensure maximum grip for your tools. Along with Dowels Spring Clips are ideal for storing hand tools and less heavy equipment, making tool removal simple and low effort. We use a combination of bolts for heavier items to provide extremes of mechanical strength.

We have supplied Shadow Boards for many applications where very heavy parts or tools are to be stored such as machine changeover parts, lifting tackle or Rail industry tooling. We will specify appropriate fixings which will have the mechanical strength to hold the weight of the part. We often also advise mounting the Shadow Board angled onto an A Frame so that the weight of the parts is pushing into the mechanically strongest part of the fixing at the intersection with the board. The use of an A Frame and the angled fixing it provides also reduces the chance of parts falling off the Board particularly for mobile Shadow Board applications.

Yes, we can supply our shadow boards on frames. We use a 40mm aluminium profile which is extremely strong and provides the flexibility to modify or adapt for future uses. We would generally advise that a Shadow Board supplied on a free-standing frame be supplied on base plates that are mounted to the floor (for stability and safety reasons), but it is also possible for our frames to be supplied on castors.

Yes, we can supply our shadow board on mobile frames. As many factories and depots have uneven floors so we generally advise that mobile Shadow Boards are supplied on an angled A Frame to reduce the risk of tools falling off the board.

Yes, and we have supplied many Shadow Boards into lockable cabinets. Some common reasons for using our lockable cabinets is if there are multiple shifts, contractors working onsite or to protect calibrated or sensitive equipment. Our cabinets are constructed from an Aluminium extrusion frame and clear polycarbonate panels. These clear panels allow for full visibility of the tools.  We can supply the cabinets with keypad lock so there is an option to change the security password/pin at set intervals.

The lead time of a shadow board hinges on a few factors:

  1. Tooling availability – the sooner we can get our hands on the tools/tooling information the sooner we can start designing.
  2. Complexity – complexity is added to a shadow board by either a larger number of tools or unusual/larger/detailed tools. If a Shadow Board is more complex it will take more time to both design and assemble.
  3. Quantity and specification – quite simply a larger project with more detailed work will take more time to design and manufacture.

Typically, a “straight forward” Shadow Board project with good tool availability, of low complexity of medium level quantity and specification will take 2-3 weeks from order.

The largest ACM sheet size available is 2400 x 1200mm. However, if there is specialist tooling involved or a very high number of tools that will require the layout to exceed this size we can spilt the design over multiple sheets of materials. We have done this on many occasions for specialist applications such as Rail track gauges and pipe storage.

This isn’t an easy one to answer, the longevity of our Shadow Boards is directly affected by several factors.

  1. Environment – harsh chemicals found in cleaning equipment and lubricants can, over time have a negative affect on the materials we use to manufacture our Shadow Boards.
  2. Behaviours– if the board is respected and tools are carefully returned then there is less risk of dents and scratches appearing. The fixings used to hold tools in place are also more likely to retain their mechanical integrity when not treated poorly.
  3. Usage – The number of times tools are being placed onto and removed from the Shadow Board will have an effect on how “fresh” that the board stays.


Difficult environments and heavy usage will have an effect on how well your Shadow Board lasts. However, we have seen well used VMT Shadow Boards in testing environments such as rail depots still in use 5-8 years after initial supply.

Yes, all our Shadow Boards are designed specific to each client so we are keen to ensure the logos and branding design elements are added to the Shadow Board design.

We have a few options for developing the design of a Shadow Board to include new tools in the future:

  1. Leave some space on the Shadow Board for shadows and fixings to be added.
  2. Supply the shadow board on a perforated panel board where the skin can be removed and a new skin added in the future. The perforated board and fixings can be recycled.