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Implementing a Kanban System

One of the telltale signs of an effective process, is if supplies are always available when they’re needed. One way in which you can ensure this level of process efficiency, is using a Kanban system. Kanban is a signaling system that informs you when supplies or parts are needed, and in what quantity.

A signaling system

Cards can be used as signals in a Kanban system. Each part in a car manufacturing plant, for example, has a Kanban card attached to it. Once a part is used, the card is detached and sent to the supply manager, who then provides a new part.

In most modern production environments, the Kanban system is pull based and computerized — each message automatically triggers the replenishment of supply as needed.

Kanban rules

There are rules for a Kanban system to be effective. First, downstream processes may only withdraw items in the precise amount specified on the Kanban. Another rule states that upstream processes may only send items downstream in the precise amounts that have been withdrawn, as specified by the Kanban.

According to a third rule, defective parts or incorrect amounts are never sent to the next downstream process. And the last rule states that a Kanban must accompany each item at all times. When you go about implementing a Kanban system, the process can be broken down into five steps.