Kanban system in production – how to use its advantages?

Kanban system in production – how to use its advantages?
Darrius Drew
Manufacturing and machinery/Mining
It takes approx. 3 minutes to read this article

The kanban system is one of the methods of production control, whose origins date back to the 1950s. It was developed in Japan, and takes its name from two Japanese words: “kan”, which means “visible”, and “ban”, meaning “sheet of paper”. 

In free translation, the term “kanban” means “visible inventory.” What are the main principles of the kanban system and how can its advantages be used in production? We give you a hint!

Kanban system in production 

The kanban system in manufacturing is a structure for organizing inventory, which is mainly based on the use of visual cues to move inventory through the various stages of the production process. It is a tool that is strongly associated with the tenets of Lean Manufacturing, a management concept that involves delivering the highest quality products to the customer while minimizing waste and unnecessary operations occurring during production. Kanban is classified as a “pull” system. This means that it responds to demand rather than anticipating it.

Basic assumptions of the kanban system

The operation of the kanban system is based on the principle of “7 none”. This refers to the exclusion of:

  • delays,
  • shortages,
  • queues,
  • inventories,
  • movements,
  • idleness,
  • unnecessary operations.

The main driver for the development of this method was the desire to replace the inflexible central planning of production control. The most important disadvantage of this solution, however, is that individual departments had little influence on the flow of materials and semi-finished products, and the fact that small fluctuations in work efficiency were associated with huge consequences in terms of downtime costs or overall production efficiency.

The basic premise of the kanban system, which is increasingly found in all kinds of manufacturing plants, is that the number of semi-finished and finished products should be adequate to current demand. Inventory storage is not desirable in this method. In fact, neither is shortages, which disrupt the entire production process. The kanban system is like a golden mean to reduce costs, increase efficiency and eliminate waste.

Kanban card – sucking inventory control

A kanban card is a suction system inventory control card designed to identify individual parts, goods and components. The card indicates their place of origin, as well as their final destination. The use of the kanban card makes it possible to create a detailed information system, linking together individual processes, demand and customer requirements. It provides a visual cue for employees, as mentioned earlier. What’s more, it can take different forms, depending on the preferences of the company in question.

However, the important thing is that it should be unambiguous and clear to everyone. What is usually found on such a card is the designation of the product, the name, the location in the warehouse, the place of production, the number of pieces to be produced, as well as the number of these cards in circulation.

Why use a kanban system in production?

The use of the kanban system in production can bring many benefits to the company. We are mainly talking about a high reduction in inventory, an increase in production efficiency, the elimination of shortages and defects, the minimization of production space and a lower need for employees. The very stage of implementing the kanban method is quite demanding, but if you can get through it, the company can expect to significantly improve its performance by minimizing costs and better responding to customer needs.

main photo: pexels.com/Tiger Lily

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