What is it: Kanban is a Japanese term that translates to the meaning "signal". It is one of the primary tools of a Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing system. It signals a cycle of replenishment for production and materials, ie. the need for an item. This can be considered as a “demand” for product from one step in the manufacturing or delivery process to the next. It maintains an orderly and efficient flow of materials throughout the entire manufacturing process with low inventory and work in process.
Kanban system usually uses a printed card that contains specific information such as part name, description, quantity, etc. However, other devices such as plastic markers (kanban squares) or balls (often golf balls) or an empty part-transport trolley or floor location can also be used to trigger the movement, production, or supply of a unit in a factory. In a Kanban manufacturing environment, nothing is manufactured unless there is a “signal” to manufacture creating a pull system. This is in contrast to a push-manufacturing environment where production is continuous.
Why use it: Kanbans maintains inventory levels; a signal is sent to produce and deliver a new shipment as material is consumed. These signals are tracked through the replenishment cycle and brings extraordinary visibility to suppliers and buyers. Kanban has became an effective tool to support the running of the production system as a whole. In addition, it proved to be an excellent way for promoting improvements because reducing the number of kanban in circulation highlighted problem areas. The main benefits of using a Kanban system are:
Where to use it: Kanban system is best used in stable manufacturing environments and is most beneficial when high volume/low value components are involved, especially if there are long lead times or demand is difficult to forecast. For low volume and high value components, other materials management system may be a better option, but there are probably sub areas where a Kanban system of one form or another will aid in production planning and material control.
When to use it: To reduce total costs on the factory floor and to bring visibility to waste.
How to use it: Select the components of Kanban that will work in your facility. Not all parts of Kanban may be appropriate for the types of products you produce. Kanban may be appropriate for one product, and not for another. In some cases a simple manual Kanban will work well. In other cases computer automation of Kanbans may be the best option. You will need to evaluate both your in-house production and your suppliers in order to determine which Kanban options will benefit your facility. Please refer to package for more infomation.