Using Kanban to Improve Manufacturing Flexibility

2 min read

When you manufacture something, production is never on one constant level. Instead there are peaks and valleys that you will need to account for in your business. Products may be discontinued, altered, or even recalled, and demand is a constantly changing number. having a flexible manufacturing process will make it significantly easier to respond to production changesKanban and Manufacturing Flexibility

Kanban is a flexible system that is able to help you meet changes in demand and produce accordingly. The kanban system is a system utilizing visual cues to control inventory in facilities using Just-in-Time manufacturing; the concept is production tasks do not occur until the signal is given. This means supply is balanced with demand ensuring you will not overproduce or have excess materials on hand. When production is high you will naturally get more materials delivered to you and when it is low you will get fewer.

In addition to controlling materials, this system also allows for quick changeover should you need to manufacture a new product. Since the supply chain is guided by your needs instead of a constant stream of materials and storage, you can switch to a new product whenever that is necessary. If you were utilizing a push system without kanban cards and needed to halt production on an item because it was recalled, you would most likely have a large amount of defective inventory you can’t sell.

The inventory represents time and money spent on the process that cost the company. However, a manufacturing facility that practices the kanban system will be able to stop production or begin producing a new product with minimal loss. Of course, there are limits based on the machinery you have and employee training, but the problem of supply lines will not be an issue.

Kanban is much more than using cards and boards, it is an inventory and replenishment system means to assist you in scheduling production. Having a clear understanding of when, what, and how to produce, you will be able to adapt to changes quickly. It is important to note that employees who feel valued and who are treated with respect will work harder and therefore improve production. Be open to input from your workers, especially in the beginning stages of your kanban system. Doing so will help you see the greatest benefits

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