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Kanban is a system where parts are supplied to a workstation only when needed. It involves a method of signalling to the previous workstation in the line, the supply of parts needs replenishing. In doing this it ‘pulls’ production forward at the optimum speed and does not allow overproduction, therefore minimising WIP and inventory.
Two bin Kanban systems enable continuous production. Once the parts in the first bin are all used, it gets moved to the back. As the bin is empty, this visually signals it needs replenishing. Meanwhile the parts from the full bin continue to be used until it is finished. The process then repeats. Kanban cards are often included in the bins. These include details about the component type required, quantities, supply methods and any other relevant information. Images can be used as well as text, for quicker identification.
Kanban can be used internally within an organisation, between different work stages. It can also be used between companies with suppliers delivering directly to Kanban bins, at the point of use (line side). The Kanban signal can vary and businesses can be as inventive as they wish. Kanban cards are common, as are lights, signals and even Ping-Pong balls. In addition, Kanban email, phone calls and cameras can be set up between suppliers.
Kanban: A practical , easy to follow example of how the Kanban (pull system) works
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