Reducing DOWNTIME with Digital Signage for Manufacturing

DOWNTIME – The Eight Muda

A lot of manufacturing is about moving things and people from one place to another. But there’s a lot of inefficiency and waste in this process. It’s all about optimally allocating resources. The principles of Lean Manufacturing, derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS), identify seven “muda” – a word meaning “useless and wasteful”, and so not worthwhile. An eighth has been added recently – Non-used employee talent, and the whole thing can be remembered using the mnemonic “DOWNTIME”. Because digital signage for manufacturing lets you show real-time data integrated with your processes, it can help you eliminate waste and increase profitability. Showing goals and progress towards goals can also be a great way to use your digital signage system to motivate your workforce.


Extra costs are incurred when a part has to be reworked, or production needs to be rescheduled or repeated, since these costs can’t be passed on to the customer and so are taken as a loss. Showing real-time data on your big screens keeps everyone informed as to where defects are occurring, so you can adjust raw materials and improve the design of the production process (altering or eliminating steps as needed).

Over Production

It may seem more efficient to assemble more items than are currently on order, but this leads to excess inventory, which must be stored and catalogued, and leads to inefficiencies in many other areas. The ideas of just-in-time, short-cycle and continuous-flow manufacturing are all attempts to address this area of waste. Managers can also leverage digital signage to pull data and track batch sizes compared to orders pending, keeping product flow lean and communicating this to the relevant workers.


This covers not just finished products waiting to be shipped, but components of products waiting to be used or integrated.  Display the time it takes from when an order is placed to when the product is actually shipped, with goals and progress towards those goals. Show current and anticipated work orders, pulling the information from your databases into your digital signage software. Workers can then see changes as they occur in real-time, and no one needs to write reports because you already have the information correlated in a concise and visual manner.


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Non-used Talent

You employees may be unmotivated – maybe they aren’t invested enough in the products you offer, or they don’t feel like the company cares about them. Your digital signage can display messages about your company’s core values and beliefs, inspirational quotes, and communications from top management about why they do what they do.  Many modern employees also feel that transparency is important to them, so show reliable metrics on how the company is performing. Reminding employees about company events and their benefits packages also helps them feel like they are being taken care of.

And while your employees may have been hired for a specific skill set, they probably have a lot more to offer your company. Use your screens to promote innovation incentives and training opportunities, or allow the workers themselves to have access to post digital signage messages, sharing and pooling their knowledge and interests with one another. When management sees something that looks appealing, they can use it to make the entire process more efficient, and reward employees for thinking outside the box.


Whenever products or materials are physically moved, there’s a risk of damage, loss or delay. Digital signage allows real-time communications between inventory and logistics, letting people see trends in inventory and transportation through stats and data visualizations. This allows them to fine-tune their processes to optimize where things are and where they need to be, minimizing the distances required to move them.


Any inventory that is sitting around not being used is not producing income. This could be finished goods, work-in-progress or raw materials. But not having enough on hand also leads to inefficiencies. Displaying stock numbers, production schedule changes and fabrication goals lets everyone work together to make sure that inventory is maintained at optimal levels.


The production process itself involves moving things and people, with attendant damage – wear and tear on equipment, repetitive stress injuries for workers, and accidents that damage both machinery and people. Using digital signs throughout your facility to show regular safety reminders and up-to-the-minute metrics on machinery maintenance needs can reduce these problems.

But there’s another inefficiency in motion – people going from one location to another. Because displays can be put wherever you want them, and you can target a single building or even a single screen, you can send the right messages to the right people, reducing their need to go elsewhere to get the information they need. And your displays can keep up a constant stream of relevant, easily-accessible information, so no one forgets or overlooks something.

Excessive Processing

When you do more work on a product than the customer needs, or your components are more complex or more expensive than they need to be, then there’s waste. Again, current messaging that shows up-to-the-minute data lets floor managers see where this is happening, and correct accordingly.

Use your digital signage to remind workers of the exact steps to get your product where it needs to be, the quality assurance checks it will go through, and when they can move on to the next project.

Be sure to recognize employees and work teams for decreasing waste, increasing safety and improving productivity. By using digital signage to keep everyone informed, updated and engaged, you can reduce DOWNTIME and increase morale.