Factory Example

Instead of a screen full of numbers, 

wouldn’t you rather see clear symbols representing what’s going on, 

with symbols that connect directly out to the floor where the action is?


Here is a display of activity at one machining center making wheels out on the factory floor. Its status can be seen at a glance from the traffic light and the progress bars showing the contents of the input and output magazines. Once the input magazine approaches its “red” region, as seen in the left side progress bar, more parts are loaded  automatically, keeping the machining center operating at full capacity. Notice also that the right side progress barther is turning yellow, indicating that the output magazine needs emptying.


A wheel factory was operating a 

  • foundry,
  • multiple CNC machining centers,
  • finishing/painting,
  • inspection and shipping

all done manually in a single shift with 

  • clipboards and roller skates
  • paperwork and
  • forklifts

to move all materials. 

o improve their output and Return On Investment $$, 
 coordinating system was designed, synchronizing all workstations from shipping - backwards to raw materials 
in a 
"pre-emptive on-demand pull" system which the customer wanted to innovate. 
It utilized a network which monitored all machines and coordinated part movements using AGVs [automatic guided vehicles] and operated 24/7. 

The basic floor layout is shown below. It shows 

  • shipping at the lower right,
  • finished goods storage just above shipping,
  • machining centers in the middle and
  • a foundry setup at the bottom and left.

All displays use colors, traffic lights and progress bars

in the form of color [green, yellow, red] coded charts or thermometers for

easy, unambiguous and uniform interpretation.

In this example, 
the demand for wheel orders is propagating 
from shipping at the lower right 
back up through finished goods, 
then to machining and finally all the way back 
to casting 
-- to cause reconfiguration and production of the newly demanded wheels. 


The actual CNC machining centers are monitored and displayed to show how their queues [called magazines] are kept loaded 
by the dispatching of AGVs [automatic guided vehicles] to pickup and deliver parts along the production line. 

See the sample display below. 
Notice how each queue is color coded with the green - yellow - red traffic light method

In the window below, 
a machining center has 
an input magazine [on the left side] and 
an output magazine [on the right side] 
which are constantly monitored and displayed. 
The progress of the current part is shown in the center. 

Each magazine shows its green - yellow - red status in the color of its border and 
the amount of parts in a central thermometer bar
On each side of a magazine thermometer bar, scales shows minutes and the number of parts. 
Beside each magazine thermometer bar is a color coded bar showing the thresholds for this magazine

For example, 
the input magazine below has turned 
red to indicate that the number of parts it contains is down to 3 
- below the threshold of 4, which allows time to deliver more parts from casting. 

Notice also that output magazine is getting full, indicated by 
- with proper planning, 
we can deliver parts to the input magazine and pick up the contents of the output magazine in a single trip. 

This displays shows all the information desired with a minimum of visual clutter. 


The overall status of the entire operation is also displayed in real time bar charts, using vertical thermometer bars. 
[Vertical thermometer bars make clear which direction indicates more - UP!] 

This first chart tracks WIP - Work In Progress: 
W1, W2, ... are the wheels in production. 


And this second chart shows everything including finished goods: 


© Gareth Harris 2019        -         Contact email: GarethHarris@mac.com         -         see also: SentimentalStargazer.com