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What Are Shadow Boards & Why Should You Consider Them

Q: How, exactly, do shadow boards work?

A: Shadow boards are a form of storage devise.  They are designed to hold and present implements in a way to show where each goes.  Items such as tools in manufacturing, and cleaning items, are the most common seen in industry.

The items clip-in, hook-on and in some cases, sit against the boards, in designated places.  Their position is determined in design with the silhouettes added to display clearly where each item goes.

Q: What are the benefits of using shadow boards in a workplace?

A: In some industries, the process isn’t complete until all items are returned, for safety reasons.  In others, they help improve organization and efficiency by keeping equipment in their storage place.

Knowing where the equipment is to clear debris, helps reduce down time.  Also, knowing that all tools are returned, confirms that a wrench was not left in a critical area of an aircraft after maintenance checks.

Q: Where is the best place to locate shadow boards within a facility?

A: Shadow boards are used by people, so positioning them in or by a work area is obvious.  However, those areas can be enormous in distribution centers, so a more strategic approach is needed.  For example, one isn’t needed at the end of every rack aisle, but every fifth or tenth might be necessary, and at both ends.  They need to be in a safe area for people to use them, alongside a walkway for example, not on a forklift truck route.  And of course, near high traffic hot spots where impacts or accidents may occur.

Q: How do shadow boards contribute to the five steps in the 5S method?

A: If we first list the five steps, Sort (Seiri), Set (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu) and Sustain (Shitsuke), you can quickly appreciate that a shadow board ticks all the boxes.

Sort: The boards provide the system to ensure all items are located in the correct place.

Shine: As well as the tools themselves potentially being used for cleaning, all tools returned are more likely to be cared for and returned in good order.

Standardize: Uniform tooling for specific activities means the user always has the best implement for the job in hand.

Sustain: Having a central point of resource improves efficiency, reduces downtime, increases productivity and a sense of achievement, which ultimately helps retain your valuable workforce.

Q: What kinds of materials are shadow boards made of and how durable are they?

A: The primary component of a shadow board is the graphic display, which can be applied to any sign material and then mounted.  However, their nature and use, require them to be mounted to a stable structure so the tool holders can be attached securely.

Our approach is to recommend a premium medium density overlay (MDO) board.  The reason for this is, we can apply the image directly to the board, assemble the board with holders and implements and ship them complete, so all the customer needs do is mount them to the wall, against racking or into a frame.

Q: What are the industries or types of facilities that can make use of shadow boards?

A: Every industry which uses a form of tool can benefit from shadow boards.  Regardless of the tool size, quantity or use, anyone looking for the tool, or replacing one will know exactly where to go.  In addition, anyone will be able to see the item missing and what to look for to make the cleaning station or assembly tooling complete.

Q: How can shadow boards help extend the useful life of tools and other items?

A: General use tools and cleaning implements used in industry are notoriously less respected than those owned by employees.  It is therefore not uncommon for them to be left in poor condition, where they were last used.  Facilities operating 5S methodology and utilizing shadow boards drastically reduce tool waste by placing responsibility on those taking items.  Furthermore, activities can be introduced which prevent a process from being complete until all items are replaced.

Items used and returned tend to be in good condition, instead of being left where they were last used and in a damaged condition.  This is because each has their designated place and poor condition is quickly seen.

Q:  Are shadow boards difficult to install?

A: Warehouse shadow boards can be heavy, and being used in industrial facilities means they need to be secured well during installation.  Hardware capable of holding 100lbs is necessary and so tooling and capability is not considered straight forward.  A good in-house facilities team will be more than capable, however if they are always busy or if you do not have one, employing installation services is advised.

Our teams have provided these services many times as part of our wider warehouse identification and marking projects.  Being onsite with equipment and manpower makes it cost effective and professional.

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