Kanban: JIT & Lean Manufacturing
What is Kanban?
Kanban is a scheduling system used in Just-in-Time (JIT) and lean manufacturing. Kanban is used to manage inventory using cards which indicate which materials are needed through each step of the assembly process allowing controlled production
Just-in-time and lean manufacturing, also called lean production, are strategies used to decrease waste and increase productivity by producing goods only as needed. JIT was designed to avoid overstocking inventory by ordering parts in small quantities based on short term needs. Parts are ordered “just in time” to be used instead of being kept in inventory. Lean manufacturing uses the concept of JIT, however, it focuses more on the desires of the customer by removing steps that don’t add value to the final product. Since JIT/Lean manufacturing systems provide products solely as needed, the ability to closely predict demand is extremely important in order to avoid supply shocks.
Kanban cards are used to signal the need for materials throughout the manufacturing process. One method of implementing Kanban is through the “three bin system” in which each bin contains materials along with a card containing product information. One bin is located where production takes place, another in the inventory department, and a third at the supplier. During production, materials are taken from the bin. When the bin is empty, it is returned (along with its Kanban card) to the inventory department to be replaced with a full bin. The inventory department then returns the empty bin to the supplier to be refilled.
Benefits of JIT/Lean Manufacturing
- By controlling the amount of inventory, Kanban manufacturing provides:
- Quality control
- Reduced inventory cost
- Minimal waste
- Better use of time and space.
These factors lead to faster production, lower costs, and higher customer satisfaction.