Kanban System in Lean Manufacturing (Part#5 of Big Fat Lean)

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Definition of Kanban as lean tool. Diffient types of Kanban and six kanban rules are briefly explained in this post.

Kanban is an information system used to ascertain that production occurs only when the demand is created downstream.

Kanban literally signboard or billboard in Japanese, is a scheduling system for lean and just-in-time (JIT) production. Kanban is a system to control the logistical chain from a production point of view, and is an inventory control system. Kanban was developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, as a system to improve and maintain a high level of production. (wikipedia, 2015)

Kanban is a visual tool used to achieve just in time (JIT) production.

Type of Kanban


 There are 2 kinds of Kanban

1. Production Kanban: It specifies the kind and quantity of product that the upstream process (supplier) must produce. This is also known as push Kanban

2. Withdrawal Kanban: This specifies the kind and quantity of product that the downstream process (customer) may withdraw. This tool is known as pull kanban

The two work in tandem. See the below diagram for the flow.



The six Kanban rules


To achieve just-in-time (JIT) product, one should follow ‘Six Kanban rules’

Rule 1: Never ship defective items.

Rule 2: The customer withdraws only what is needed.

Rule 3: Produce only the quantity withdrawn by the customer.

Rule 4: Level production - the production orders should be stable, say, we can’t order 50 pieces in one hour and 250 pieces in the next hour, if our processes are to produce right part, in right quantity, in right time.

Rule 5: Use Kanban to fine tune production. The customer withdrawal of product should be at a constant rate. Example: customer department should not demand 100 pieces in the first hour, and 200 pieces in the next which results in stocking and hence collapse of the whole system.

Rule 6: Stabilise and strengthen the process. Reduce Muda, Mura and Muri by implementing poka yokes (to detect errors), reduce walk time /awkward postures that strain team members, and rationalize layouts.
Read previous parts of BIG FAT LEAN series

Part#1: What is Lean Manufacturing Technology?
Part#2: Benefits of Lean Manufacturing
Part#3: 8 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing
Part#4: The 5S system - An essential  in Lean Manufacturing tool


This is a guest submission by Vijayalaxmi Meharwade.


About Vijayalaxmi Meharwade: Vijayalaxmi is a graduate (B.E.) in Textile and Master is Textile Technology (Garment Technology). She has 14 years of experience in research, and working in industry concerning textile and garment manufacturing. She has also worked as a teaching faculty. 

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Online Clothing Study: Kanban System in Lean Manufacturing (Part#5 of Big Fat Lean)
Kanban System in Lean Manufacturing (Part#5 of Big Fat Lean)
Definition of Kanban as lean tool. Diffient types of Kanban and six kanban rules are briefly explained in this post.
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