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What is the Kanban System

The term Kanban is a Japanese word meaning a “visual board”. This term has been used since the 1950s to mean a process definition. It was first brought into the limelight by the Japanese motor company Toyota as a scheduling system for Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing. 

The capitalization of the word Kanban is directly associated with the emergence of the Kanban Method that was first defined in 2007. 

This method is a part of a pull system that controls what a firm produces, the quantity, and the time. The purpose of this method is to ensure that your team only produces what the customer is asking for and nothing more. This is a system of signals used through the value stream to pull products from the customer demand back to the raw materials. 

The Kanban method can take different forms. However, in most production facilities, they will use a Kanban card or bins to control the production process. There are typically no limits on how you can control the design of Kanban; you can just imagine what you believe works better for your production team through the Kanban replenishment meeting and implement it.

What is the Kanban Framework?

The 21st century marked a new dawn for those in the production and service delivery industry. Most of the stakeholders in the software industry discovered a new way in which the Kanban method could be used to positively change the way products and services were being delivered. 

The Kanban method left the automotive industry and was applied in complex commercial sectors like software development and Information Technology (IT). Kanban has made this progress because it is more focused on efficiency and deliverability. 

The Push Production vs. Pull Production

The main objective of JIT or the Kanban methodology is to pull the production process so that the end customers only get what they want on time. The idea is to manufacture a single part of the product as the customer requires. 

However, this is not usually the case with most processes until a significant investment is made in the production process. This is not the conventional way of production witnessed in most companies. To create a product based on the forecast of what the customer is expected to order, the production process should be scheduled and the raw materials ordered on time. 

This is called the push production process. The materials target are fed right from the start of the process. The entire process is controlled through MRP or a schedule. This results in the production of items in large quantities or batches and ties up a significant amount of the company’s capital. 

The pull production method works the opposite way. In this method, when a customer takes a product at the end of the production process, a signal is sent at the end, which triggers the production of the next part. 

Each production process requests a part that it requires from the previous process. This works more like a supermarket where the shelf is filled once a customer pulls out an item into their cart. The whole process is controlled and monitored through the Kanban method.

What are the rules of the Kanban method?

You can check the following rules to find which of the below is a Kanban practice. The following are some of the rules that should be followed when you choose Kanban system for production:

  • There are no defects that are passed on to the next process 
  • The latter process collects products from the previous process 
  • The later process produces based on the requirements of the earlier process 
  • The earlier process will only produce what the later process needs
  • Without the Kanban authority, there are is no production 

Implementation of the Kanban Method

If you decide to implement the Kanban process in your company, it means that:

  • There will be no production if there are no Kanbans and Kanban authority
  • The earlier process in the production line will only push the production to the later process.
  • Demand should be smoothened where possible
  • Your production team should identify any defects close to the production source as soon as possible
  • Your teams cannot operate with lots of plan changes or large batches

Which is the ideal environment for implementing the Kanban method?

The production team should ensure the following conditions are met to use the Kanban system:

  • Ensure there is regular demand from customers. It is difficult applying the Kanban system where the demand for the final product is unpredictable.
  • There is low product variation. That means you only make the product unique towards the end of the process.
  • Clear flow in the production line – the facility should organize the production process to ensure there is a flow.
  • Reliable suppliers – the suppliers of raw materials, should be reliable and capable of supporting the Kanban process.

Final Thoughts

The Kanban system is one of the best methods you can apply in software development. It ensures your team meets customer requirements at every stage of the production. This reduces the timeline and ensures efficiency in the production process.