By Jon Miller | Post Date: March 28, 2007 11:21 PM | Comments: 8
I had a very interesting conversation today with a friend who is a manager spearheading a Lean effort at a local facotry. His latest focus is on connecting the metal forming operations with the assembly operations using kanban. He observed that although there is a great need for kanban, there is so much confusion about kanban in the U.S.A.
Here is a short list of what kanban is not:
- A taped, painted, or otherwise marked storage location
In the broad definition, the world calls nearly anything "kanban" that acts more like a pull than a push. If the result of kanban-like is less overproduction and more pull than push in this world, it may be OK. Then again, this leaves a lot of inventory and unimproved processes on the table.
I'm talking about the narrow definition of kanban. This is the system of cards developed by Taiichi Ohno to signal consumption downstream and order production upstream. The cards come in withdrawal, production, signal varieties with variants of these. The main purpose of kanban was to limit overproduction while linking processes that could not flow one-to-one.
Why is there no comprehensive, step-by-step book or instruction manual for kanban on the market, in English, yet plenty on kanban-lite? Does this reflect that there have been so few true kanban implementations from the ground-up in the United States? Or is it that only none of these have resulted in a book? Even in Japan, where better books and manuals on kanban are available, there are surprisingly few kanban systems implementation documents.
Kanban is not easy. Ohno said in his book that at one point he forbade the management in one Toyota factory from operating a kanban system with their supplier because the Toyota factory itself had neither an internal kanban system nor the discipline and systems this required for a kanban system.
Kanban requires being thorough with a lot of the basics such as 5S and not passing on defects. People must follow procedures to at least a quasi-Standard Work level. It also requires SMED and a certain degree of heijunka if lot sizes are to be kept small. Then there is the homework you need to do with container sizes, quantities, address system, delivery routes...
Perhaps it not so much confusion as being satisfied with kanban-lite or intimidated by the requirements of a full kanban system.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.