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Going Lean: Push vs Pull Production

2 min read

Pull system in a facilityLean manufacturing aims to eliminate wastes and improve productivity, primarily by operating on a pull system known as just-in-time (JIT) production. The JIT method is opposite to push systems on the spectrum of supply chain management and can often be the barrier for a company going Lean.

In a push system, production is scheduled to meet the forecasted rate of demand. Also known as mass production, the push method has been around for centuries and while there are instances in which it might be beneficial, this kind of system can easily become a wasteful strategy. There are no limits on WIP and products are processed in large batches before moved down the production line or into storage. An inaccurate prediction can have a major impact on inventory levels or cycle times, and many organizations find themselves producing excessive inventory,

Pull systems on the other hand, are dependent on actual customer demand. The idea is that nothing is made, and no process is started without a submitted order from the customer. It’s virtually impossible for an organization to order materials and plan a strict pull system, which is where Heijunka comes in.  Developed as part of the Toyota Production System, Heijunka translates to mean production leveling. By leveling either by volume or type, you can develop a system that not only works for your specific product and facility but sets your organization up for Lean success.

JIT and Kanban

Arguably the most important tool in operating this kind of production method is Kanban, a tool also developed by the Toyota Motor Corporation. Kanban uses visual cues, like cards or bins, to trigger an action further down the production line. Processes (like value-added activities) only occur when the bin or card is received, and operators ensure only quality products are moving to the next stage. Kanban can be tailored to fit the needs of an organization, some companies just starting out may go with a 1-card system while others may choose to use a more sophisticated electronic system with barcodes and scanners.

Other tools you may want to be familiar with in a Kanban system are:

  • Kanban Boards: A simple visual representation of work in process. A basic board would usually be split into three different stages of “To Do,” “in Progress,” and “Completed.” People can quickly track orders as they move through the process and office departments can even utilize them for administrative purposes.
  • Other visual cues: Bins and cards don’t need to be the only visual trigger! Think outside of the box and use something like color-coded floor markings to indicate when something may need to be produced or ordered.

A system using JIT manufacturing and following the principles of Lean with a pull system will find their system is much more flexible. If demand fluctuates or market conditions shift unexpectedly, you will have an easier time adapting production accordingly. It ensures production is only happening effectively eliminating overproduction and over-processing, which can hide defects and cause a whole bevy of other wastes.

Different Variables Often Considered In The Kanban System

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Kanban, also known as Kamban, is a system commonly used by an organization to help them manages their level of production. It is a term that is commonly misinterpreted by those people who don’t properly understand it. Trying to implement the Knban system without fully understanding it can lead to a lot of setback and negative results which are not good for the overall development of the organization.

It is therefore very important for one to properly grasp and understand the concepts and variables behind the Kanban system BEFORE implementing them in any kind of an organizational setting. Again, this will help in preventing huge losses and damage to both the organization’s operational structure as well as hits to it’s reputation, which might be incurred as a result of improperly implementing Kanban techniques.

Kanban Is A Japanese Word

If translated to English, Kanban means “billboard”. It can also refer to a signboard. The Kanban system is used to bring about a sense of organization in lean management. Its concept is mostly based on the utilizing of cards to convey certain defined and targeted messages to workers and employees within the organization.

The Kanban system can also be applied to the JIT concept. It is very important to understand each and every concept and module of the Kanban system. This will enable one to have the knowledge and idea about how to implement or incorporate the technique(s) into your own organization or business system.  

The Kanban system is made out of six types or variables although only two of them are commonly used. This is because of their popularity and simplicity. The two variables mostly consist of the input system and the output system. This is a very ideal way of managing your inventory and reducing costs. The output and input method ensure that the work done or created within the organization has a continuous flow or progress. Every resource is then made available according to it’s usage or requirement. The input and output system works simultaneously from one process to another. The Kanban system, or method, helps you in managing your inventory since you’ll not experience problems such as low stock, as new inventory flows in, as needed.  

The Relationship Between House Care And The Kanban System

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The Kanban system was initially adopted by the Japanese who used a house keeping model to ensure that the workplace is conducive and safe. It is a very effective way of ensuring that the company or organization never runs out of supply. It also enables organizations to properly plan on how resources are to be utilized. In the family setting, Kanban helps the family in replacing used items. This means that they will never abruptly run out of important necessities such as milk, bread or butter.

The Systems Works By Ensuring

all house hold requirements are bought in excess. You should however note that none of the items bought become surplus as they are bought according to need and not capability. Once one of the items is used up, it’s placed in a significant place that will require the homeowner to notice that there is need to replace a specific item.

The relationship between House care and the Kanban system The Kanban system is mere common sense that can be applied by just about anyone. In layman terms, the word Kanban stands for sign or symbol. This symbol is what will be used as a constant reminder to ensure that you replace whatever is used up. It can be defined as a catalyst or trigger that prompts a certain action to take place. Kanban in organizations utilizes bins to convey the symbols and messages.

Most commonly used is the 2 – 3 bin system.  The bins often contain information that will help the users identify the rate at which a particular resource is being used. It will also notify them if a certain resource is required or not. The bins can have cards inside them that once finished trigger a response. This system has largely helped organizations to reduce the amount time wasted on doing unnecessary things.  It has also helped them increase productivity and manage inventory since resources will always have a sufficient flow.  

The Kaizen And Kanban Principles

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The kaizen and Kanban system were both coined by the Japanese who were trying to find an ideal way of developing their growth. Kaizen can be defined as of form of bringing about continuous improvement. The kaizen process utilizes a SQC (statistically quality control) technique that is very rigorous in nature. This technique is scientific and ensures that all rules are adhered to. The technique should be implemented in a way that zero defects are experienced. This can be done by putting a constructive framework in place for the employees and workers to follow or adapt to. The kaizen process can greatly motivate the workers and give them a sense of self belief as they witness the positive outcome. In general, the employees should strive to continue the process throughout by sustaining the plan put in place.

flow of how kaizen and kanban are related

The Kaizen Process Consists Of

a number of steps that are used to ensure that there is continuous improvement. The first step involves creating a plan. This plan will be made for departments and organizations that specifically need some form of improvement. The plan should then be gradually implemented until some change is witnessed. It’s very important to consider a plan that works. Change the plan if you see that there is no progress being made. You should then study the outcome and pick out the positive.

The connection between kaizen and Kanban is somehow unique. It’s the responsibility of the management and employees to ensure that they learn of the Kanban process as well. Though not necessary, equipping yourself with Kanban knowledge will ensure the organization improves at a more rapid rate. The process of constant improvement for the Kanban system is more rapid and fast. It helps the workers to adopt into the kaizen method. The workers will also learn with time that the progress can’t sustain itself and it’s their responsibility to keep on pushing so as to get positive results.  

The Three Cycles In The Kanban Scheme

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It’s very important to first know the rules and regulations that guide this scheme. You should note the rules, if well implemented, will yield very positive results and thus prove that Kanban can be a success if used in any settings. The rules have been used by various companies seeking to find solutions in areas were development is lagging and there is very little or no improvement at all.

They can be used alongside lean management and the kaizen principle to ensure that everything in the company is progressing in a forward direction. Some of the basic rule is:

  • Ensure that good approved to go to the next stage of production are not of substandard quality
  • You should only produce what is needed and can be sold
  • Manufacture the exact amount of products that can be cleared out in a single cycle
  • Sustain the process for as long as possible
  • Smoothen the cycle by reducing the number of surplus products produced

The Three Cycles In The Kanban Scheme Mostly Consists Of

  • Manufacturing
  • Demand
  • Supply

You should ensure that all of them are placed in bins in the form of a card that can be used to convey a message to workers and the senior employees. The scheme is more of a bin system that can be used to help the workers identify various manufacturing prospects tat the company is trying to achieve.

They should also contain a detailed explanation of what the product being manufactured is all about and any other detail that might be of importance. The bins will be taken back to the storage room each time they are out of cards.

Free Kaizen GuideThis would mean that the bin representing demand has no more cards signifying that resources are needed and should be purchased. Significantly, the bins should be returned to place once they are filled with the Kanban cards so that work can resume with ease.

The supplier bin is very ideal since it keeps the management on toes ensuring that the company doesn’t lack any form of product that has a sale value. The management can choose to add a spare bin to the Kanban scheme for convenience purposes. The spare bin can contain the various undocumented and misunderstood production processes such as miscellaneous activities.

You should however note that this bin is strictly for time saving so that people don’t waste a lot of time on what they practically can’t understand. It should therefore be sorted out once time is made available and put into its respective bin.

The Basic Fundamentals Of The Kanban Technique

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Kanban is a philosophy that is utilized in sustaining the compilation of company assets and requirements. Kanban operates by sending a message to manufacture and transport a new product as the resources are being utilized. The messages are sent through a self restoring sequence of events that are continuous in the same order thus enlightening both the manufacturers and purchases on the different aspects of Kanban. Kanban has over the years been used to improve kaizen job and kaizen supplies putting up a system that promotes continuous improvement.  However, a lot of people often assume that Kanban is a system used to sustain an inventory which is in fact not the case. Kanban can be described as more of a planning methodology that facilitates workplace prospects such as what to manufacture, when to manufacture it and finally amount to manufacture.

One Of the Most Successful Companies

To Implement Kanban, Toyota, did so by continuously sticking to its fundamentals irrespective of the slow and gradual continuous improvement in every sector of the company. In the long run, the Kanban system grew to be a very vital tool in sustaining the entire manufacturing business. It further showed that it was a very ideal way of enhancing continuous improvements for both kaizen jobs and kaizen supplies.

The Kanban fundamentals were initially coned from how supermarkets operate and handle their business. The ideology was that most supermarkets strictly purchase wholesale products that will clear from their shelf in the least time possible especially if they are perishable goods. Supermarkets don’t fancy putting products that has a long shelf life in terms of sales as this will greatly injure their profits. In generals, the Kanban fundamental can be described in simple terms as cyclic shelf stocking where only required goods come and go on a regular basis.

This technique is very ideal for both the seller and buyer in that the seller clears out their products effectively while the buyer gets exactly what they came for; convenience in the making.  The companies therefore emulated this technique by stocking only things that had sale value to customers. The customers on the other hand received mostly what they were looking for and were satisfied with the company’s stock provision policy. However, thorough research had to be done so as to identify the major items that consumers were greatly attached to. They also had to add any advancement and changes that would appeal to the consumer and thus attract them into buying.

Steps Towards Introducing Kanban In An Organization

2 min read

In Japanese, the word ‘kan’ means card while ‘ban’ means signal. Therefore, kanban means signal cards. It is a system of continuous supply of components, parts and supplies, to ensure employees have what they need, where they need it and when they need it. Basically, it is an approach to work scheduling.

The system balances the flow of supplies with demand to ensure a smooth workflow in a company. It is essential in Lean implementation as it synchronizes the flow of material and information as required in Just in Time (JIT) production.

Step 1

Becoming familiar with the system and the options available to choose from is the first step.Some parts of the system may be suitable for you while some may not. In some cases, a manual system may be enough for your type of products, in other cases a computerized system may be the most appropriate.

Step 2

Planning and designing; the system is not just about manufacturing. Other functions also need to be involved in planning and designing of the system. These include purchasing, warehousing, transport, accounts and engineering. At this step, it is important to keep in mind the main objective of implementing the system which is to, have what is needed, where it is needed and when it is needed.

Step 3

Set goals; you need to set a schedule with measurable goals clearly spelling out what you want achieved and when. What will be measured and how it will be measured should also be determined.

Step 4

Implementation; you can start by introducing a number of signals like containers, pellets, boxes etc. all these can then be systematically reduced to the point where the supply of components is in balance with demand.

However, safety stock needs to be available to eliminate chances of interruptions in production. The stock can be used when there are too few containers for production. This trial and error approach will have to go on for a certain period of time to provide for normal fluctuations in production.

The common benefits of implementing kanban are:

  • Reduction in inventory; averagely by 25% – 75%, hence resulting into savings in terms of storage space, rent, electricity, personnel etc.
  • Eliminates over-production; parts are created only after the signal and therefore stock holding costs are reduced.
  • Improved workflow; components are availed and continually stocked for manufacturing activities
  • Increased responsiveness to demand changes; kanban reacts to changes in demand immediately as opposed to predictive systems.
  • Reduced risk of obsolescence, as inventory is created only when needed.

For some ideas on how Lean and Kaizen supplies might help you in your work environment, we encourage you to visit www.kaizenleansupplies.com. Browse through the products there and see if you don’t come up with some ideas or rather, some products, that might be helpful to you in your lean journey.