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As a manufacturer, one of your main advantages is to eliminate wastes; in other words, actions that are unnecessary and provide no added value. Shadow boards are an excellent means of implementing continuous improvement principles because their purpose is to eliminate the eight manufacturing wastes. This article will give you tips on how to sort your tools and create order so you can efficiently carry out daily tasks, regardless of the nature of your work.
According to the 5S method, shadow boards are commonly used to manage tools that are frequently utilized during the day visually. It’s a very appealing approach as you can apply it to almost any environment!
A shadow board is a visual method of stocking items employing a filled-in contour of every one of them in a colored backdrop to show where the tool should be put back after each use.
It’s in the second S: SET IN ORDER or “Seiton” in Japanese, that the shadow boards come in. The exact meaning of this term is to lay out all objects and put each one in its place. Establishing a designated location for every tool or piece of equipment will help you find what you need when you need it.
You can increase efficiency by significantly reducing wastes that provide no added value, such as time lost looking for a screwdriver, a broom, or a pair of scissors.
Good to know – For optimal visual management of your tools and parts, here are the three essential elements of a shadow board:
Typically, a pegboard is the shadow board’s foundation on which is painted the contour or shadow of the item to be hooked on the board. Shadow boards are an efficient way to create a visual impact thanks to the colored background. You can put tools or production items on them, such as dies or prototypes, for example.
The shadow board above is a kitting cart that one of our customers uses with its supplier to avoid overpackaging and waste materials on the production line.
By sending these boxes back to the supplier, the latter can simply insert all the items ordered by the customer in them again without having to restock packaging materials himself.
In addition to being environmentally friendly, this method prevents the supplier from forgetting any items and makes order prep easier. The color-coding calls attention to missing parts.
This section of the article will provide you with tips as well as steps involved in making the type of shadow board that will be most effective and profitable for your business needs.
First, gather all your tools to decide which ones will go on the shadow board. To help you choose those needed to carry out your tasks, think of the setting in a hospital’s operating room. A surgeon should never have more than what is required to operate on the patient, nor have to hunt around for a specific scalpel!
To avoid unnecessary steps, you should always position your tools as close as possible in your workstation. Usually, these would correspond to those which you use within the hour or during the workday. In an office setting, the same principle applies: Items that are regularly utilized should be placed on the desk.
Use this chart to decide if the tool in question should go on a shadow board or not.
Once you’ve decided on the tools that should be within reach, now it’s time to choose the material. The number of items and the shadow board’s location is two determining factors at this step in the process.
Here are some examples of our customer’s shadow boards as a source of inspiration. Some chose to use materials they already had on hand, while others opted for laser cut-outs in foam panels.
If this type of shadow board interests you, we highly recommend its manufacturer – who also happens to be one of our suppliers: OSAAP AMERICA.
Masonite pegboards are the most common on the market. They can generally be found in hardware stores or home improvement big-box stores. The panels are available at low cost and have either 1/8-inch holes or 1/4-inch holes for more robust use.
Masonite panels are not intended to hold heavy tools, such as drills. Doing so would cause the panel to warp and eventually rip. Also, with time, the holes in the panels can sustain damage from frequent hook changes.
The image below shows various types of hooks that you can use to hang your tools.
Tip: At Flexpipe, we simply use screws with bolts for added strength.
Long-lasting, metal is easy to clean and is one of the most robust materials on the market. It also gives the pegboard a stylish look. It’s worth keeping in mind that metal boards are the most expensive option, and their weight makes them difficult to buy in larger sizes.
Additionally, if the air is humid, be sure to use stainless steel to avoid rust issues. Finally, remember that metal conducts electricity, so take precautionary measures to provide your employees with a safe work environment.
Plastic or polymer acrylic pegboards offer unparalleled versatility and reliability. They are much lighter than their Masonite and metal counterparts.
Their durability is unbeatable, given that they are rustproof, will not crack or warp. This type of board can withstand heavy loads.
Each type of material has its advantages and drawbacks; evaluate them all to find the best for your needs.
You can also make your shadow boards out of foam if, for example, you need to store or handle fragile parts a production line. You’ll notice that most of these shadow boards are placed on a wheel-mounted cart or rack.
If you decide to build a foam shadow board, there are several grades of foam from which to choose. On the other hand, the more the foam is porous, the more difficult it will be to cut, as Ethafoam, for example. There are higher risks of it disintegrating where the knife penetrated it, consequently shortening its life span.
Type-A foam panels, such as Crosslink, are of better quality thanks to their high density. This type of foam will protect fragile parts more effectively.
You can also use materials you already have on hand in your plant to build your shadow board. Some of our customers used MDF panels, whereas others decided on steel panels. A little creativity mixed with a desire to reuse existing materials can give pretty impressive results!
Tip: Regardless of the type of material you choose for the shadow board, we suggest dividing it into sections. It will be much easier to alter only a portion of the entire board, instead of the whole thing, should you have to move tools around.
To begin, set your tools on the panel to use up space in the most optimal way. This task may be painstaking as you’ll have to try a few configurations before finding the ideal one.
Be sure to align all tools properly. We recommend grouping them by families: adjustable wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, drill bits, etc. After, draw the tools’ outlines at their designated location on the panel.
To conclude, all that’s left to do is to place the hooks and hang your tools. Take a picture of the final product and show your project to the rest of the team so everyone can use this work method!
In short, implementing the 5S system will have a positive effect on your operations, such as:
Whether the shadow board is in an office setting or for workstations in the production line, everyone will come out a winner. Don’t wait another second before trying one!