We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Visual Control?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Visual control is the use of visual information indicators to provide immediate feedback about a process so that anyone in the environment can understand what is going on. This technique is popular in a range of settings and in some cases is mandated by law for safety reasons. For example, emergency valves are clearly labeled, a form of visual control, to allow anyone to operate them and to make sure that bystanders are aware that the valves may vent suddenly and unexpectedly.

There are many forms of visual control. It may consist simply of posting operating instructions near a piece of equipment. It can also include indicator lights and status messages. Electronic systems commonly have a central control panel that provides information about what is happening in the system and where. It can generate error messages, highlight parts of the system that are in operation, and so forth. Examples can be seen in air traffic control rooms where radar monitors incoming aircraft and they are tagged with notes providing additional information.

When visual control is not present, only the operator knows what is going on, and she may not have an at-a-glance view of the whole system. Operators could know what is happening with the equipment they have responsibility for without knowing anything about the rest of the facility. They may not be aware of slowdowns and stoppages, for example. If the operator was incapacitated, another person would not be able to instantly take over without visual control, as that person wouldn't understand what was going on with the process.

Status boards can be useful for visual control. These are placed in a central location to allow supervisors and passersby to see what is happening in a facility. They may be electronic or could be updated manually. A printer, for example, might have a job board up showing what is assigned to each press, and providing information about the status of each job. She can move tags around on the job board, and each tag corresponds to a work ticket that can be consulted for more information.

To contrast visual control with other systems, it might help to think about walking into a kitchen where someone has stopped partway through preparing a cake. One baker has left out the recipe and all the tools and ingredients. It is easy to determine that the only remaining step is to mix wet and dry ingredients and put the cake in the oven. Another baker has not left out the recipe or any supplies. The baker taking over would have to guess what kind of cake was being made and what needs to be added to the batter before it can be baked.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.