item is received, the person writes when
it was received. The card continues
to cycle back from the shop floor to
purchasing, and while that is happening, simultaneously you are effortlessly
tracking vendor performance. It’s as
easy as looking at the back of the card
when you order the item, and asking
their lead time. Compare their answer
to the historical data on the card and
voila, you are probably more in tune
with their performance than they are.
Imagine getting the exact items you
need, when you need them, in the
quantity you need with a real-time
report on vendor performance. The
card also lets operators know where to
put the item away when re-stocking,
further eliminating searching around
the factory. A kanban system even
makes your accountant happy, no more
cycle counting or shutting down for
that dreaded yearly inventory count.
You have complete control over every
item in your factory.
Now that you have a card, the next
step is calculating the order quantity.
Its as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Determine your consumption in
2. Determine the vendor’s reasonable time to replenish in days
3. Multiply your consumption in
days times vendor’s replenish day =
You also want to make sure you
build in a small amount of safety stock,
and this will depend on how critical
the item is to your work flow.
Making it work
Two more simple factors and you’re on
your way to making your purchaser’s
job much easier and saving your factory from those dreaded outages.
How does the card work in the
factory? The most important rule is to
make sure you put the kanban card
attached to the item where you want to
trigger purchasing. If it’s not totally in
the way, people will simply forget to do
something with it. Be creative and get
the card visible and attached. Something
sticky, elastic bands, plastic envelopes are
just a few things I have seen work well.
The last piece of the puzzle is cycling
the card back to purchasing. Let’s track
a card for one cycle: Card removed
from trigger quantity item. Operator
puts card in a designated kanban box.
Purchaser once a day collects all cards,
orders items and returns cards to the
kanban board where they show everyone at a glance the item is on order.
Once the item is received, the card is
again attached to the trigger quantity.
How is that for easy and effective?
About the only challenge to kanban is
creating the cards and cataloging them
in such a way they are easy to access and
update. A properly running kanban systems is updated frequently. Remember,
you are organizing inventory, which is
waste, and we should be working to reduce that. Fortunately, we have created
a tool on our website to help you create
your kanban system. It creates the card
for you, prompts you for the relevant
data, allows you to change colors and
give easy access to update them.
In addition, there are training
videos to ensure you have a successful
kanban launch. We also have created
the boards, which we have for sale, but
if you know me, I’m all about helping
fellow lean maniacs, if you’d rather
make them yourself, let me know I will
just send you the CAD files for free.
Our goal is to help you succeed in your
lean adventure, whatever that might
take. Head over to www.quantumlean.
ca and kick off your kanban!
If you have any questions, as always
we would love to help you. ✚
A kanban card lives with inventory to
signal when it is time to reorder. This
card is rubber-banded to a certain
number of pens so it can’t easily be
ignored when the level of pens dips to