Kanban Card – How to apply Kanban

Kanban Card Pull Process - Lean Production
Kanban Card Pull Process - Lean Production

The Kanban card is used to plan your production according to a certain demand. With the aim to just produce what the downstream process needs – just in time. Apply a pull production to avoid overproduction and scrap. When just producing what the downstream process needs, no overproduction occurs. Start with the Kanban implementation on low-running parts.

What is the Idea of a Kanban Process?

True, there may be tons of good ways to use the Kanban card at home like the image above indicates, but let’s start to apply Kanban in a business first.

Kanban (or Kanban Card) is such a powerful term that it is often misused in all kind of meanings. The meaning of Kanban is a card or label and is used to schedule your production according to its needs: Means, to produce just what was consumed by the downstream process. For instance, produce “1” steering wheel only when “1” car is produced and do not produce “10” steering wheels cause you think “10” cars will be produced. If no car is produced the steering wheel production stops producing steering wheels for that moment. We call this a consumption-based production planning – or “pull” process. “Just produce what has been consumed”.

Why should I care about Kanban?

In the example of McDonald’s India (Click here to watch the photo: Overproduction at McDonald’s – Source: http://cmuscm.blogspot.de), the kitchen continuously produce burgers without any customer order. The production pushs the goods towards the downstream process. Nowadays, McDonald’s waits for the customer order before they start to produce. The customer pulls the upstream process. No overproduction occurs.

Pull is an elementary part of the Just-in-Time methodology. In order to implement a Just-in-Time production, a pull-based approach to plan and control your production is mandatory.

How do I then implement Kanban Cards?

Several ways exist of implementing pull inside a process. The most often used approach is the Kanban card. To implement a card-based process, start with one or a few low-running parts. Define two dedicated places at the line to place two boxes of identical screws. Place a card inside each box. Once the operator empties a box, he forwards the card from that box to a postbox or something similar. The line feeder (or group leader / shift leader / team leader) of that line empties the postbox each turn. All the cards inside the postbox triggers a production order. The card has to be located inside or on top of the full box. As the operator has two boxes at the assembly line, he continues producing without any interruption. That upstream process just produces the quantity of one full box.

Kanban Card – Further readings:

Just-in-Time @McDonald’s – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpwwcpubUIw

Lead Time – A simple Explanation



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