The Signage Behind Manufacturing: From Factory to Sales Floor

Author: Drue Townsend

It’s easy to take for granted the wealth of goods and services that are available to purchase these days. On that note, it’s also easy to take for granted the amazing feats of logistics behind the manufacturing that makes everything possible. A big cog in that wheel is signage. Signage wears a lot of hats in the manufacturing process; from delivering the right information where and when people need it, to keeping employees and visitors alike, out of harm’s way.

Let’s look a little closer at all the many benefits of signage in manufacturing that you may not have ever stopped to think about.

A graphic shows many examples of signage used in manufacturing

Manufacturing Safety Signage

Did you know that safety signs are one of the oldest types of safety equipment? In 1914, the Worker’s Compensation Bureau published “Signs and Slogans,” which promoted the use of Danger safety signs but didn’t provide any standards specifically for format or guidelines. The design and messaging was left up to the company using the signs. Signage Standards entered the scene in 1941, in response to the industrial revolution and the rise of manufacturing-related accidents.

Today, keeping workers and visitors safe is still one of the most important jobs signage does in a manufacturing facility, particularly in areas with heavy machinery or hazardous waste. If you’ve ever personally toured a manufacturing facility you’ve probably noticed safety signs with cautionary messages such as “Danger: High Voltage” or “Safety Glasses Required in this Area.”

Regulatory Signage

Certain safety signs are dictated by OSHA regulations to warn of specific hazards that may lead to accidental injury to workers and the public or property damage. OSHA even regulates the safety of the sign itself interestingly enough; for example signs can’t have blunt corners or sharp edges. Safety colors are red, black and white, and caution signs need to have a yellow background with black text. The wording has to emphasize positive actions rather than negative.

Directional Signage and Wayfinding

For a long time, companies took for granted that their employees knew where everything was at a facility. That’s no longer the case. The goal today is that anyone who enters a facility for the first time, should be able to seamlessly get anywhere without asking for directions. This is particularly important for manufacturing facilities because when they tour a client, and clients see wayfinding signs that show an attention to detail, they’ll assume the business gives the same level of detail to their production process.

Retail Signage

Retail signage plays a big role in that important last step of the manufacturing process by keeping products moving from warehouses to shelves, by properly identifying the way to the public streets and eventually to point of sale.

So the next time you pick up a new pair of jeans, a handy kitchen appliance or something else, think about the journey that item took to get to you, with signage as its guide. To get a better idea of some of the types of signs used in manufacturing, watch this quick illustration.