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KANBAN or just in time

The Japanese word Kanban (pronounced kamban] is a common term meaning “visual,” and “card” or “board”. It is a concept related to lean manufacturing and JUST IN TIME production.  Here in America,  we hear “Just in Time” more often than Kanban, but they mean  essentially the same  thing.

Kanban is a signaling system to trigger action. As its name suggests, Kanban historically uses cards to signal the need for an item.

It was out of a need to maintain the level of improvements that the Kanban system was devised by Toyota. Kanban became an effective tool to support the running of the production system as a whole. In addition, it proved to be an excellent way for promoting improvements because reducing the number of Kanban in circulation highlighted problem areas.

An automobile has a lot of parts!

the General Motors plant in Kansas City, the employees can turn out several hundred cars each day.  Although the factory is huge, there is no place to store parts for the automobiles – the plant is occupied by a huge assembly line where the parts are assembled. Parts like steering wheels aren’t very big – the plant may have a truckload delivered only once a week, and store the steering wheels somewhere in a storeroom.  Front and back seats,  however, take up a lot of room, and several truckloads of seats are scheduled to arrive each day since there is no place to store “extras”.

This is where Kanban comes in. At each station, there is a rack where small parts like screws, bolts, and other fasteners are used. These parts come in boxes.  At the bottom of each box is a card. When the box is nearly empty, the leader of the install team at each location picks the card out of the bottom of the box and hangs it on a hanger at the rear of the rack. An employee in a golf cart drives around looking for these cards (or tags), grabs the card, goes to the storeroom, gets the appropriate box,  and delivers it to the install site. In this way, parts never run out – they are delivered Kanban (JUST IN TIME)

As a trainer, I am interested in training JUST IN TIME. It does  no good to train you on how to use a new machine, new software program, new process or procedure if you will not be using it for the next few months!

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