What are Kanban bins?

One of the most important things about the Kanban system is making sure that you don’t have too many parts for a given production process. Minimizing the parts on hand helps to keep things running efficiently, avoids having parts sitting unused for extended periods of time, and generally reduces waste.

If done improperly, however, this can result in another problem. If you run out of a particular part on the production line, it can become necessary to stop work until the needed parts arrive. Kanban uses a series of visual communication concepts and products to help ensure every area has the parts and other items that are needed, without ever oversupplying a particular item. 

Kanban Bins

Kanban bins are any type of bin or storage system that is made specifically to assist with the visual communication used in a properly operating system. There are many different types of bins that can be considered Kanban bins, including the following:

  • Indicator Bins – Indicator bins are typically two (or more) colors. This makes it so when the number of parts in a bin is running low, it exposes the second color, so it becomes clear that additional parts are needed.
  • Colored Bins – Using bins that contrast with the parts being stored can help to make it easier to see when parts are running low. When the supply team sees that a particular part is almost out, they can have someone bring more to replenish the bin.
  • Bins with Labels – Having labels attached to the front of a bin can help to track how many of a given part is present. This type of Kanban bin is typically used when inventory is tracked electronically. Each time a part is removed from the bin, it is scanned so the system knows how many parts are left. When the inventory gets low, it can automatically order more.
  • Highly Visible Bins – Having bins that are highly visible so people can look at them from a longer distance will help to increase the ability of employees in the facility to track parts and other needs.

Improving Kanban Implementation

Kanban bins are a great way to improve any Kanban implementation in your facility. They can very effectively increase the visual communications throughout the facility, while also improving the way parts or other items are organized.


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