How does a Kanban system operate?

Most people in the manufacturing (and many other) industries have heard of Kanban and are likely curious to see if it could benefit their facility. Taking the time to learn more about this methodology, and properly implement it into your facility, can help to reduce waste, increase efficiency, streamline the workflow process, and much more. To get started, take a moment to read about how the Kanban system operates so you can get a good idea of what you can hope to accomplish.

Workflow Visualization

Visual communication is absolutely essential for a successful Kanban implementation. You will use a variety of different tools and strategies to help ensure people can see what is needed, even from quite some distance away. A Kanban board, for example, will list all the steps in the workflow process that need to be taken, and provide specific instructions on what needs to be done. There are also Kanban cards that will alert areas when additional supplies or parts need to be brought to an area.

Reduce the Work-in-Progress

Keeping everyone in a facility busy is important for any company, but it is important to work smarter to reduce risk and waste. This is why Kanban helps to limit the amount of work-in-progress that is present at any given time. This means having as few products that have been started, but not yet completed, to a minimum. Reducing works in progress can also be applied to projects for non-manufacturing activities. The reason this is so important is because it cuts back on the risk of loss related to order cancellations, delays due to machine problems, and much more.

Pull the Work

Rather than planning out how many of a given product to create based on projections on what customers will buy, Kanban has companies wait for customers to ‘pull’ the products through. This means that a company doesn’t start the production of a product until a customer has actually ordered it. This strategy helps to ensure you don’t have excess inventory that needs to be stored, maintained, and hopefully sold at some point down the road.

Streamline the Workflow

Once an order has come through for a particular product, it is important to be able to have it move through the production line smoothly. Identifying and eliminating bottlenecks or slowdowns in the production process can help to dramatically increase the efficiency at which an order can be fulfilled. Kanban is very effective at this because it closely tracks part inventory and other critical functions so that problems or needs can be addressed right away before it causes a work stoppage.

 

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Additional Resources

Kanban Guide
 
Lean Manufacturing Powerpoint
 
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