The hourly production control board, otherwise known as the hour by hour chart, is used to monitor the progress or output of a process against plan. The advantage of this kaizen template is in its simplicity, near real time performance tracking and in that it promotes the management behavior of going to the gemba to understand the situation.
This visual control chart is just one example and as such the time intervals can be modified. The production control board should be on a piece of paper or erasable board placed directly at the workplace. In a u-shaped cell the hourly production board would be found at the opening of the cell where the process starts and ends. Without a doubt some readers will tout the merits of a computerized monitoring system, but let’s walk before we learn to skip rope.
The output per check cycle (hourly, every 2 hours, etc.) would be updated by the line leader or designated person. The supervisor of the area would check these boards at certain intervals and write their name or initials signifying that the reasons for any delays have been understood and countermeasures have been taken or if not the problem has been elevated to the next level of management support. Identifying and writing down the problems is only the first step: the organization must have the will and the means to address these issues or else it is not kaizen and people will stop using this.
As organizations progress in their understanding and practice of lean management, daily production meetings or “go see where stuff is at and figure out what can ship today” meetings become briefer and more peaceful tours of the production control boards. This helps to immediately reveal the current status of production, issues of the previous shift and what is actually being done about it. Data can tell stories but it is hard to argue with facts, and that is why the production control board should always be placed near the facts.