What Is The Kanban System?

Posted by naimor on Nov 15, 2017 2:09:36 AM

Regardless of the industry in which you work, efficiency is always a top priority. If you can maximize your production output while also increasing sales, then you have a recipe for success. Although the sales end of that equation can sometimes stall, there are always ways that you can improve your operations.

One such method is with the Kanban System. Today we’re going to look at how Kanban can revolutionize your manufacturing methods and ensure that you are always operating at peak efficiency.

kanban system

How Does Kanban Work?

Simply put, this system utilizes a board that illustrates what work needs to be done, what work is getting done right now, and what has already been finished. Rather than just having a “to-do” list for each person or department, everyone is put into the same system so that you can notice any bottlenecks much more easily.

Typically speaking, a Kanban layout is structured as follows. On the left side, there is “Need to do.” In the middle is “Getting Done,” and on the right is “Finished.” By visualizing what each person and department is doing at any given time, it allows management to restructure resources as needed based on how things are progressing. So, for example, if there are too many items in the “Getting Done” section, then it could be that there’s too much work to handle at once. As a result, you can either add more people, put some items on hold, or move staff to a different project so that they can focus better on what’s most important.


How to Implement Kanban

When this system was first invented in 1940, it was printed on large boards. Toyota was the first company to utilize Kanban, which is why it has a Japanese name. Kanban literally translates to “signal card.” More specifically, kanbans were used to get more supplies. Thankfully, with new technology, the whole system can be digitized to make things easier for you and your employees. However, in manufacturing, you might want to employ a mixture of both, since many people on the floor won’t always have ready access to a computer terminal.


Pull System, Not Push

For the most part, factories and warehouses utilize a system of forecasting to generate product based on what they think demand will be. This leads to overproduction as more stock is kept on hand, just in case there is fluctuation. Kanban, on the other hand, is a pull method. This means that you’re only producing what is ordered by the customer. It can take a little bit of time and effort to make such a dramatic switch, but if employed effectively, you can drastically reduce the amount of inventory you have on hand, which will make your operations much leaner and more efficient, lowering production costs. That’s another reason why having a visual board on the floor can be a great idea. While you should have a digital system that can be monitored remotely and updated on the fly, workers need to be able to see everything clearly in a centralized location.

When implementing Kanban, it’s imperative that you keep your customer orders up to date. Since you are only producing based on demand, it’s essential that your numbers are accurate. However, once you and your team see how well you can manage without overproducing to inflate your stock, you’ll see a lot of savings in the long run.


Kanban Cards

Another crucial element of this system is the use of cards to provide a visual representation of a product during production and assembly. The card has all of the pertinent details about the item, and it is directly tied to a customer order. To maximize efficiency, the card is brought to the first operator in the process. Following the instructions, it is passed down to each subsequent operator so that they can continue until the item or order is completed. Once that happens, the card is placed into the “Finished” file, and the product or request is sent out.

By integrating barcode scanning, management can track the progress of each card from the back end to show where everything is at any given time. This will also show when a section is getting overwhelmed with orders, meaning that adjustments can be made on the fly.


Benefits of Kanban

As you can see, there is a lot of value to the Kanban system. Here some highlights of using the Kanban system:

  • No costly inventory is sitting on shelves, waiting for orders
  • Production and manufacturing operations can be adjusted in real time
  • All operators can remain focused on the task at hand
  • Management can visualize activities in real time
  • You can save money on both inventory and labor (and final product cost)
  • Allows you to produce based on demand


Naimor Uses Kanban to Lower Your Costs

When it comes to Kanban for metal manufacturing, Naimor Metal Fabrication utilizes Kanban to
ensure that all of our orders are built to spec and shipped out with supreme efficiency. If you are
looking for a high-quality fabricator to help you with your metal fabricating needs, contact us today.

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Tags: manufacturing industry, production, metal fabrication, Kanban