The Art of Visual Controls

The five senses are Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell and Taste. Light travels 186,000 miles per second and it transmits data to the human eye instantaneously. Since early man, sight has been a most valuable tool. Prehistoric man used visual ques to hunt for game, identify threats and even pick out a suitable mate. You see Visual Controls are baked into our DNA; therefore, there is great power in using them to organize and streamline your work environment.

Let’s begin with your early childhood. Was it difficult to understand what went where? Do you remember this toy? Of Course you do!

Visual Controls

Since early childhood we have been programmed to visually interact with shapes and letters. When is comes to shop organization, there are a few simple things you can do to organize your work areas. Before we go into that, let’s discuss a few challenges to organization.

Problems to overcome in organizing Your shop.

First, we love the influx of new female technicians we are seeing, but shops are male dominated. Enough said, we men are not naturally known for exceptional organization skills and cleanliness.

Second, when multiple people share the same space and even some of the same tools necessary to perform task, things get complicated. The Body Man Says, “Who has the Jump Box?” Does this sound familiar?

Third, the evolution of organization tends to morph over time. One day we keep an item in a particular place in the shop. A year later through an evolution of personnel changes and other contributing factors, the item is stored in a completely new location.

The Solution

When you finally realize that time is money in the shop you are going to want to do something about it. This article is dedicated to helping you not fail in all the ways that we did in our quest to help customers get organized with “The Art of Visual Controls”.

Collision Edge Rules for Organizing Your Shop Floor with Visual Controls.

  1.  Eliminate items that are never used. Throw them away.
  2.  Identify seldom used items. Store them in a place that is out of the way. Publish a list of these items and their locations in a high traffic area of the shop, like the back of the shop door. If you are not sure if an item is “Never Used” or “Rarely Used” put a tag on it and instruct your people to write the date on the tag when it is used. After 6 months, get rid of the blank tagged items.
  3. Every item should be stored near where it is intended to be used. If this item is used in many places in the shop you may need more than one. The average repair involves 1.8 Miles of foot travel, think about that when you are considering the amount of equipment and its placement on your shop floor.
  4.  Equipment locations should be clearly marked with both a label and a visual queue as to where it should be positioned.  The “visual queue” may be an outline or better yet a hole shaped like the item that is unmistakable. We will review some options later in this article.
  5. Try to eliminate storage on the floor, unless the item has wheels that will roll. If the wheels on your items are small replace them with over sized cushion tires that will not get hung up on an air hose or even a zip tie. Equipment mobility will encourage techs to take the work to the car and simplify floor cleaning.
  6. Use quality floor marking materials. We have tried everything and have some great resources on how to do it right the first time. You can not use colored Duct Tape it will not last! Contact for more information.

Examples of Visual Controls.

Bad Point of Use Cart

Good Point of Use Cart


Bad Cabinet

Good Cabinet


Bad Point of Use Cart

Good Point of Use Cart

Disorganized Shop Floor

Organized Shop Floor – Collision Edge ShopFX                                                      Contact

Collision Edge Rules for Organizing Your Shop Processes. 

  1. “The Art of Visual Controls” sounds complex, but the goal is really to keep it simple. If it is complex no one will be able to follow the rules. Leanardo Da Vinci put it best when he said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  2. Again, make it visual. Where and how do we tag customer cars for simple visual recognition as we walk the shop floor? Our January E-book may have some useful information…just Download it here.
  3. What does the expectation look like? Can it be made into a digital dashboard that everyone works from? Here is a link to ours. Just download a copy for yourself.

    Mark Safe Video

    Mark Safe Video

  4. Don’t ask anyone to follow rules that you will not follow for yourself.
  5. Don’t ever use paint to do visual controls. Paint is permanent and locks you into decisions that may not pan out.  Give us a call and let us help you with our Collision Edge ShopFX product line.

In Summary

Visual Controls are not “Rocket Science”. Organization begins with communication. Involve your technician stakeholders. Decide how you will change what you are doing today and define the impact that you think it will have on your business. Try something new and do not be afraid to fail. Plan intervals to check up on your progress and for sure don’t make any permanent decisions with paint markings! We hope you have enjoyed this overview on “The Art of Visual Controls”.

Thank You. -Tim Briggs


One more thing! You Saw it here first, New Product Announcement.

Recently, our industry like many has been impacted by the Covid 19 Outbreak. Are you getting paid what you are owed for vehicle decontamination? When you look at a car in your shop, how can you tell if it has been decontaminated both when it arrived and just as importantly when it was delivered back to the customer? Collision Edge created the “Covid Cling” window film that is completely paint safe and reusable.  It is another great example of a Visual Control that will protect your people and show your customers that you take your job and their safety seriously.  Photograph the Covid Cling to document the procedures that your shop followed to support your estimate and final bill. They are available in several different quantities an multiple volume price points to fit any shops budget. Check them out here!

Covid Cling

Check out some of our other Articles that went out to our mailing list! Join Now for FREE if you like what you see!

Body Shop Material Profits

The Cost Of Deadly Dust

Transform Your Business with Google – Production Management

Transform Your Business with Google – Photo Management

Bad Primer or Bad Process?

Collision Edge is committed to solving problems for the Collision Repair Market. Visit our website

We hope you enjoy our blog post, Drop me a line any time