Using Color-coding to Control Production in an Office or Factory

Examples of Color-coding for Production

To ensure your operation is not over-producing or wasting time searching for the next job, use a simple color-coding technique to eliminate this problem. Physically mark off the area where completed work goes. It can be as simple as applying 5S Floor Marking Symbol “Corners”.

Basic Color-coding

Although there are no specific industry color-code standards for production control, there are color standards for safety ANSI Z535.1-2017 and OSHA Safety color code for marking physical hazards, common color elements can help create a productive workplace.

A simple, but effective color-coding system can include these colors and purpose:

Note: Remember to back-up color-coding with symbols or words in case anyone is color-blind.

Stop Wasting Time

In a poll, 57 percent of the respondents reported that each day 15 minutes or more per person was wasted searching for tools. We can reduce or eliminate that waste.

Color-coding by area or production line

Another way color-coding comes in handy is when you have multiple areas or production lines that have standardized tools and clean-up gear. Pick a color for each area and use tool shadows and ID bands to make sure they are in the proper place.

Check out this video on Tool Tracer Tool Shadows that will help you reduce wasted time searching for tools and reduce stress (2:15 min).

Traffic Lights for Production Control

We can use the traffic light analogy for our production control colors. This makes it easy to remember and understand for everyone using the system. Green Means “Go”. In this case, green means “okay to go to the next operation or process”, “Move this to the next operation.” Yellow is for caution or in this case for Storage or Hold. Red Means “Stop” or quality hold, scrap, damage items and so on. Add in Blue for “next job” or “next item to work on” and you have a complete, easy to use, and visual production control system.

Traffic Light: Green-Yellow-Red, plus Blue.

Color-coding in office settings

Old School Folders

Color-coded folders

This may seem a little dated because this office group still used hardcopies of drawings for parts and components. One of the issues they ran into was determining whether they had the most current version of the document. When we discussed the problem with the team, they came up with a simple solution (aren’t simple solutions the best?!). They used green folders for the current documents, yellow folders for the documents in the draft stage, red folders for old or obsolete documents that they wanted to keep for historical and retention purposes, and blue folders for other, non-critical documentation.

Binder Clips to the Rescue

In an office area it was hard to keep track of the work that was “On-hold”. Compounding the problem was that is was not readily apparent why it was delayed. The team came up with an easy, low cost solution – binder clips! If work was delayed it was held in a specific area on a convenient table in the department. The binder clips were stored at point-of-use. The “One-Point Lesson” gave directions on how to use the color-coding system. The team loved it and it spurred them on to make additional improvements on this system.

Color-coding Makes Tasks Easier

By using a simple color-coding standard in your work areas, you can create a powerful system that saves time and effort and makes work easier. Create a system that will work for you.

Share and let us know how you use color-coding.

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