Lean Manufacturing

Guest Post: Should You Display Standardized Work Sheets at the Workstation?

By Jon Miller Updated on April 2nd, 2021

by Franck Demarest

When discussing this subject with many people, I often encounter the dilemma about the location of standardised work sheet meaning either close to the line or in a cupboard in management office.

About which standard documents we are talking about, let’s differentiate the support document (standardised work combination table, chart and time study) and the visual document (job element sheet also called work instruction sheet – see picture). The focus of this post is around Job Element Sheet.

To answer that I usually refer to the purpose of standardised work. What is the goal of having standardised work documents? From my experience, I think we need it from 2 perspectives: TRAINING and AUDITING. As a result of that if your audit frequency is low (i.e. 1 / month) it might be not necessary to display it on the line. But as a prerequisite to this, it means your training system should be very robust.

What is robust standardised work training?

Too often in industrial world, we have a tendency to under-value the training system. To compare to learning swimming, we usually put people in the bath and hope they will manage by themselves how to survive in water and potentially be able to go through water without concerns.

As a result I come across different ways of training people. The most helpful I found as of now is around the letter STAC. It stands for Show, Train, Assess and Confirm. The timing you allocate to each phase might vary depending on process complexity and total length of cycle.


The idea beneath is that you should firstly have the new operator as a shadow to an experienced member (he could then read the work instructions, see the flow and start to notice some abnormalities). The experienced worker should then confirm that the rookie understand the document (content, sequence, key points). You could also make this outside of the line in a dedicated training area even though the principle is the same.


In order to ramp up the new person, you should proceed in progressive steps. For example if you work sequence is divided in 10 steps, you should train at first on step 1 and 2 and make sure the person can proceed repetitively to ensure safety and quality. Later on you could go to add step by step, confirming at each new added block that still repetitively guaranteed. In between, you should also check the know how of key safety / quality points.

Once the full sequence is known and demonstrated, you could focus on the cycle time achievement.


After prior phases are completed you could perform the D-Day. It is time for team-leader (different from the people who trained) to assess the new person in completing the job in safety, quality and time. It includes also some questioning of key knack points. At the end the score should release the new operator to be able to work by himself. Of course the organisation should show that even release the new worker could have just in time support through andon systems and / or managers supervision.


As human being is continuously striving to achieve better, we should ensure consistency to keep achieving best safety, quality and time of process. This re-assessment is a way to discuss with operator about potential difficulties and improvements. The frequencies have to be set by your company (for example some places have it done on a weekly basis for each individual).


Standardised work is not rocket science. It deserves some thinking before implementing it, not only from a physical location point of view (display it) but also from a training methodology (STAC). In fact, we have to remember that any Lean Element we want to introduce should be initiated by a need for the company. In order to introduce elements, we must think it over to ensure we understand the purpose we want to serve.

About the Author

Hello, I am Franck Demarest, 32 years old. I am French and have been working in the continuous improvement field in the automotive industry. I have been in Tier 1 ((JIT Production Responsible, 6 Sigma Black Belt and Lean Facilitator) during 4 years and in Toyota during 3 years (TPS implementation at supplier and inside Toyota). I am now working in the packaging industry as European Lean Champion. My studies were around production, logistic and quality and as Industrial Engineer.

  1. Peter Moreton

    March 2, 2009 - 3:52 am

    The only information that shouldn’t be at or immediately next to the workstation, relates to private documentation. All other relevant sheets, guidelines, pictures, performance data, audits, etc., should be there available at all times for easy reference.
    If somebody for whatever reason is uncertain or needs confirmation on a matter, the fact it is there quickly at hand means less delay and time wastage. It can also act as a support for the nervous operator.
    Give people what they need, where they need it, and when it is required.
    Please remember that people are not robots, so actions and reactions can be different at all times, due to mental, psychological and physiscal aspects, so build in the necessary supports to guarantee lean continues.

  2. Chris Nicholls

    March 3, 2009 - 9:07 am

    Dear All
    I think there’s a real danger that too much information displayed at the workplace becomes “wallpaper” that no one looks at or needs to refer to constantly to do their job. When displaying information at the workplace use the 5S principles. Only display that which is necessary at the workplace and review the contents regularly. Less is more and keep it simple
    Best Regards

  3. Maree Boyd

    March 4, 2009 - 12:21 pm

    Eliminate paper! View highly visual work instructions online. Monitors can display to operators the work they need to do in a step-by-step sequence. Tooling can be identifed and displayed as well. While online, the assembler can call up any engineering information if needed. The goal is to provide instructions that train personnel. A record of who has done what can be kept. And much more. To find a better way, visit us at http://www.visualfactory.net.

  4. Nick

    October 28, 2010 - 8:56 pm

    I agree that too much information can overwhelm anyone. However I would certainly not advocate of having Work Instructions Online as the only option. Work Instructions are fundamentally different to Standardised Work. Standardised Work is a document developed from pure observation of the process with all activities, Value Adding and Non Value Adding, even if it is not the best case scenario. In doing so we understand that the process will take “X” period of time; it will produce “y” number of units at the current level of QUALITY. This provides at least stability to a less than perfect process and forms the foundation for improvement to the process. Programing robots to perform repetitively to acheive the above is simple, having free thinking, intuitive, highly adaptive human beings is a totally different ball game. The only two methods I know of to reduce the likelyhood of human intervention in creating process problems is to 1) Design the human out of the process, machinery / Poke Yoke or 2) Training & Auditing to Standardised Work. It’s incredibly difficult on many levels, particularly from an organisational culture perspective; ie we’ve never been expected to be monitored like this before, why now? Without Standardised Work when a problem does occur and does affect QCDS, where do you know where to begin your investigation as to the Root Cause?

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