Kanban Implementation Process

Kanban Implementation Process

How does one achieve all these fantastic benefits? First, you must make the commitment to make change and no longer accept the status quo. You must be willing to accept the uncomfortable feeling associated with implementing new ideas. You must be committed to making a plan and following through on this plan. If you can accept the above " musts ," then the seven steps listed in Figure 1-2 are your roadmap to implementing kanban in your organization. These steps allow you determine your current situation, what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve it. Additionally, as we progress through the book, we will build these seven steps into a flow for continuous improvement.

start figure
  1. Conduct data collection

  2. Calculate the kanban size

  3. Design the kanban

  4. Train everyone

  5. Start the kanban

  6. Audit and maintain the kanban

  7. Improve the kanban

end figure

Figure 1-2: Seven Steps to Implementing Kanban.

Step 1: Conduct Data Collection

In this phase you will collect the data necessary to characterize your production process. The act of gathering data will allow you to make a decision based on facts instead of on desires or gut hunches. This data will allow you to calculate the kanban quantities (which is the next step). As you proceed through this step, be honest about the process's real capabilities so that you can calculate realistic kanban quantities that support customer demand.

The first step also represents a golden opportunity for conducting value stream mapping (VSM) for your entire plant and allows you to determine which production processes would be good candidates for implementing pilot kanban scheduling systems. Additionally, the plans for kanban can be considered in the larger scheme of implementing lean manufacturing during the VSM process.

Step 2: Calculate the Kanban Size

Once you know where you are, you can calculate the size of the kanban. Initially, you will calculate the kanban container size based on current conditions, not based on future plans or desires. However, step 7 will focus you on ways to reduce kanban quantities based on a realistic continuous improvement approach. The initial calculations will utilize the production requirements, the system scrap rate, the process productivity rate, planned downtime, and changeover times to calculate a replenishment interval. The replenishment interval (which will be explained in greater detail in Chapter 4) will establish your order quantities. The final kanban container quantities will also include a buffer for safety stock and to account for any process cure, drying, or normalization periods. These calculations will form the basis for the kanban design in the next step. Chapter 4 will also address a quick method for setting kanban levels in mature processes or for those people who just want to jump in and swim.

Step 3: Design the Kanban

Once you have calculated the kanban quantities required to support production requirements based on current conditions, you're ready to develop a design for the kanban. The completed kanban design will answer the question of how you will implement the kanban. The design will consider:

  • How will the material be controlled?

  • What are the visual signals?

  • What will be the rules for conducting the kanban?

  • Who will handle the kanban transactions?

  • Who will make the scheduling decisions?

  • Who will resolve problems?

  • What visual management items will be needed?

  • What training will be required?

  • What is the implementation schedule?

The end product of this step should be a plan for implementation of the kanban, including implementation actions, action assignments, and schedule milestones.

As you finish the design step, don't be afraid to commit to a start date. Don't be guilty of analyzing yourself into inaction. Pick a start date, build a plan to support this date, and monitor the plan for progress toward hitting this date.

Step 4: Train Everyone

Before starting to schedule with kanban, don't forget to train everyone on how the system will work and on their role in the process. Develop a simple presentation to explain the process and the visual signals. Also, review the rules during the training. Take the participants through what-if scenarios to help them understand their roles and the decision-making process. Conduct a dry run so that everyone knows how the kanban signals will be handled and what the signals mean. Keep the training focused on operating the kanban. Don't try to make everyone a kanban expert ”just train them on their piece of the puzzle.

Step 5: Start the Kanban

Once you have a kanban design and training completed, you can start the kanban. Before you implement kanban scheduling, make sure you have all your visual management pieces in place. Having the signals set up, control points marked , and the rules completed and coordinated before you start will avoid confusion and make training much easier. As you deploy the kanban, anticipate problems that may impact success and take action to prevent or mitigate these problems. Finally, during the deployment stage, develop a scheduling transition plan ”determine the exact point for the change and the amount of inventory required to make the change.

Step 6: Audit and Maintain the Kanban

After the kanban starts, you must begin the next step of the process ”auditing the kanban. Auditing is the step that usually gets overlooked in most failed start-ups. So, when designing the kanban, identify who will audit the kanban. Typically, the auditor will be watching how the scheduling signals are handled and whether the customer stays supplied. When the auditor finds problems, then the problems need to be fixed immediately by the responsible party to maintain the integrity of the kanban design. Taking action prevents the kanban from being pronounced a failure by the operators.

The auditor will also look at future requirements to make sure the kanban quantities meet expected demand. If you don't adjust the kanban quantities to forecasted demand, then expect to continually intervene manually in the scheduling process (a sure way to kill the kanban).

Step 7: Improve the Kanban

Finally, after the kanban gets running, look at how to improve the kanban to reduce inventory quantities. Resist the urge to just start pulling containers. Look at how the system is running and identify any quantities that were oversized, and pull the necessary containers immediately. After this one-time adjustment, only reduce the quantities based on improvements made to the production process.

Chapter 9 suggests potential improvement areas that create opportunities to reduce quantities. Don't be fooled into the fallacy of just reducing the kanban quantities on a whim. Determine the amount that can be reduced by using the same calculations you used in sizing the kanban to calculate the new quantities.