Solutions for Safety & Visual Communication
Written by Steve Hudgik March 2013
At its most fundamental level 5S is about eliminating waste, and getting a facility cleaned up and organized. This includes establishing a storage location for everything and identifying those locations in a simple way that makes knowing what-goes-where simple and easy.
Establishing a standard for floor marking is the foundation of your 5S system. Your 5S floor marking standard establishes the means by which most location and storage information will be communicated.
There is a four level hierarchy of methods for communication. The fastest, easiest to understand is color, but using color communicates a limited amount of information. Text communicates the most information, but communicates that information slower and with less reliability. The use of shapes and symbols are two other methods of communication that fall between color and text.
Color is the most effective means of communication and it provides the starting point for your 5S floor marking system. Use color to designate pathways, lay-down areas, and storage locations. However, keep in mind that the colors used should not conflict with those used for compliance with OSHA floor marking requirements. For example, red floor marking may be used to identify red tag areas. However, if red is already being used to identify fire safety equipment, then it should not be used for red tag areas.
It is a common 5S practice to create shadow boards for storing tools. The shadow board uses vinyl "cutouts" that have the shape of each tool. Tools are placed in the locations that have shapes that exactly match the shape of the tool. Color vinyl can be used to make the color of the "shadows" match the color coding on the tool. This ensures that each tool is returned to its proper location.
People quickly recognize shapes, thus shapes communicate information quickly and reliably.
The same principle can be applied to 5S floor marking, using floor marking tape to mark off the locations of equipment. Unlike shadow boards the exact shape may not be necessary when using 5S floor marking. For example, if a warehouse uses three sizes of fork lift trucks, the parking locations can be designated using three different size rectangular boxes.
Using 5S floor marking can help to efficiently and safely guide people to their destinations. Printable floor marking tape can achieve this with directional arrows, or you can cordon off an area with preprinted tape, cautioning against a specific hazard. Wayfinding tapes such as PathFinder Reflect or PathFinder Glow will help guide people in lowlight conditions or emergency "lights out" scenarios. PathFinder Rigid is heavy duty aisle marking designed to withstand the abuse or forklifts and pallets.
The next level in communication is to use symbols and pictograms. More information can be communicated using a simple picture than using just color and shapes, and the speed of communication remains relatively high.
One of the most common uses of symbols is to communicate warnings and safety information. So be sure that any 5S floor marking symbols cannot be confused with warning and safety symbols.
For 5S floor marking, symbols may be printed on the floor marking tape to identify the type of equipment or materials to be stored. They may also be used to communicate information about positioning and storing items within an area. For example, a pictogram of a drum with a line through it would indicate that drums are not to be stored within the designated area.
Text communicates the most information, but takes the longest to understand. Text also requires the ability to read the language used for the text. This can be critically important because frequently there are workers whose native language is not English. Sometimes a combination of text and a symbol is the best way to communicate a message. For example, a red line across a forklift lane may be used to indicate a full stop is required before proceeding. Including the word "STOP," and a symbol in the shape of a stop sign, more clearly communicates the need to stop.
The advantage of text is that it communicates very detailed information. For example, 5S floor marking can be used to designate product storage areas. SKUs printed on the floor marking tape identify which product goes within each area. Text and numbers can be used to identify work areas, machines, work stations, entire production areas, and temporary lay-down areas.
5S floor marking may seem like a mundane product. After all, once installed we don't think about it much. It's just there, under our feet, doing its job 24/7. And that's the way it should be.
Graphic Products now offers PathFinder floor marking and wayfinding tape for any industrial environment. PathFinder includes tapes for challenging floors such as irregular surfaces, concrete, extreme temperatures, or floors subjected to frequent washdowns or forklift traffic. Call us at 888.637.3893 if you have any questions about which tape is right for your environment.