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The Visual Workplace and the 2-Bin System

January 16, 2023

Imagine being a new staff person and entering your storage space for the first time. You would probably have many questions and would be looking for visual signs in your surroundings to help guide you.  Making your storage space a visual workplace has benefits for new and seasoned staff and is vital for keeping the space efficient, safe and organized.

What is the Visual Workplace?

The visual workplace uses symbols, signs, and labelling to quickly communicate important information. Think about how visual signs or aids are used in the grocery store. Arrows on the floor directing you down the aisles, and thanks to the aisle labelling, you are able to find where the pepper is located.  With pepper in hand, you see which cash registers are open because their numbers are lit up. These are all examples of visual cues and signs.

There are lots of visual signs you can include in your storage space, such as floor markings, colour-coded task lists, outlined spaces for tools, posters, and labelling.

Another very practical use of visual aids would be implementing what’s known as the 2-bin system.

 The 2-Bin System and Its Benefits

The 2-bin system is a simple way to know when/how much to restock, and can be useful for places like kit pick-up areas. It works by having a certain number of items in each bin, with instructions about which to take from first, and what to do when the first bin is empty.

  • For example, think of this system:
  • 2 bins full of supplies
  • service users take from bin 1 first
  • when bin 1 is empty it is set aside, and bin 2 is put into rotation
  • meanwhile bin 1 is re-stocked and ready to rotate in when bin 2 is empty

With the right labelling, this becomes a self-sustaining system where the empty bin serves as the visual signal for staff to restock.   A similar system can also be used for stock movement with community agencies, or for your own ordering from your suppliers.

Has this given you any ideas for how visual aids can assist you and your team at your program? We’d love to hear your ideas and see photos.  We’re always available to email at [email protected].

-Lucas (OHRDP)

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