Kanban

Kanban is a Japanese word which means “ Sign”. Kanbans are usually cards or it can be flags, space etc. It is a method of material control in a manufacturing unit. The aim is to manufacture Just in Time and avoid costly inventory.

Background

T. Ohno of Toyota was the one who introduced Kanban method. This idea occurred to Ohno on a visit to USA, when he visited a supermarket. In the supermarket, product is pulled from the shelf and the missing amount is replenished. This is the famous pull system in action.

Example of Kanban system

The order to produce parts at any station is dependent on receiving an instruction, the Kanban card. Only upon receiving a Kanban card will an operator produce more goods. This system aims at simplifying paperwork, minimizing WIP and finished goods inventories.

A Kanban card generally has the following information:

1. Part number

2. Quantity

3. Time of delivery

4. Location

5. Delivery frequency

Color of selves at location etc.

As per Shingo, Kanban systems are applicable in repetitive production plants not in one-of-a-kind production operations. Kanban is beneficial for production systems involving parts with common processes.

If a Kanban system is used, with cards indicating the need to resupply. The method of feeding an assembly line could be achieved using the following process:

1. Parts are used on the assembly line and withdrawal Kanban is places in a designated area.

2. A worker takes the withdrawal Kanban to the previous operation to get additional parts.

3. The WIP Kanban card is a work instruction to the WIP operator to produce more parts. This may require a Kanban card to pull material from an even earlier operation.

4. The next operation will see that it has a Kanban card and will have permission to produce more parts.

5. This sequence can continue further upstream.

The order to produce parts at any one station is dependent on receiving an instruction, the Kanban card. Only upon receiving a Kanban card will an operator produce more goods. This system aims at simplifying paperwork, minimizing WIP and finished goods inventories.

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