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Kanban  Techniques
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By following the 10 steps listed below, you can reasonably expect to implement kanban replenishment in a small pilot area of your plant in 120 days and be able to see tangible, bottom-line results.

      Step 1: Have an on-site assessment made. Understand the kanban replenishment process and the application to your particular environment. Identify the pilot area and select the pilot implementation team. Develop a preliminary list of paybacks.

      Step 2: Obtain the necessary implementation materials. These would include 

-  materials for education and training

-  layouts of the pilot area

-  planning data for the pilot parts: 

-  average use

-  set up times

-  lot sizes

-  labor standards 

      Step 3: Educate the implementation team.

      Step 4: Develop a detailed implementation plan—who will do what and when it will be done. This is a lengthy step. It is important to  make deliberate haste here, but, do take the time to do it correctly. 

-      Create a process flow chart.

-      Determine the material flow for the selected area.

-      Select the kanban system to control production.

-      Select the kanban system to control replenishment.

-      Establish kanban quantities and process balances.

-      Identify material for point-of-use storage.

-      Choose performance measures.

-      Establish performance objectives:

 -  lead times

-  inventory

-  space

-  shortages

 -  Define rules for sharing common equipment.

-   Review maintenance schedules.

-      Develop interfaces to existing systems.

-      Define the points of material deduction.

-      Define procedures for handling engineering changes.

-      Define labor collection procedures.

-      Design the kanban cards (signaling system).

-      Produce/procure the kanban cards.

-      Define the procedure to "bleed off" excess inventory.

       Step 5: Begin "bleeding off' excess inventories.

      Step 6: Implement kanban controls for all material and production processes in the pilot area.

      Step 7: Begin to selectively reduce the number of kanbans. Also begin to: 

-      Monitor and display performance measures.

-      Conduct daily production meetings in the pilot area.

      Step 8: Educate the pilot implementation team, and selected others, in the total quality control problem-solving process called PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Action).

      Step 9: Implement the PDCA problem-solving process.

      Step 10: Evaluate the results of the implementation. Begin to make plans to migrate the kanban process to the next pilot area.


After 120 days from the beginning of step 1, you should reasonably
expect to find for the pilot area that

      The use of purchase orders has been eliminated.

      The use of shop orders has been eliminated.

      Labor collection is now being done on an exception basis.

      There will be more material stored at the point of use.

      Lead time has been reduced by 40 to 90 percent.

      Raw materials and WIP inventory has been reduced by 30 to 70 percent.

      Floor space has been reduced by 40 to 70 percent.

      Shortages have been reduced by 40 to 90 percent.


Kanban replenishment is a simple, efficient, and highly visible way to authorize production and/or shipment of both purchased and manufac­
tured material without the use of hard-copy purchase orders and shop orders. Placing a limit on the number of kanbans will set an upper limit on the total amount of inventory in the system. Gradually reducing the number of kanbans will expose and prioritize constraints to achieving higher velocities. 


Kanbans are good because they make waste highly visible, whereas it once was hidden. Ultimately, of course, kanbans are bad because kanbans are inventory and that inventory sitting idle is waste—even though it may be necessary waste.


The intent of rule 3 (eliminate a kanban from the system periodi­cally) is to drive out all the waste—which would mean to eliminate all kanbans. The objective of every operation becomes to economically respond to its customers' requirements within their own lead time and with no inventory (kanbans) at all. Now this may seem to be Utopian at first, and it is true that we may never be able to reach that waste-free operation in some of our processes. Each waste reduction, however, no matter how small results in fewer potential defects, lower costs, and increased responsiveness—both for now and for the future!


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