Kanban Made Simple: Demystifying and Applying Toyotas Legendary Manufacturing Process - page 27


To successfully implement kanban scheduling, use a team. The team will ensure buy-in from the people that must operate the kanban while making sure that unique aspects of the process are considered .

This team needs to be cross-functional and contain representation from all the stakeholders. Definite team members include:

  • Production management/supervision

  • Materials management

  • Material handlers/warehouse

  • Operators (last but not least)

Other groups to consider for membership include human relations, engineering maintenance, sales/customer service, downstream customer(s), and trainees for future kanban projects.

Make the decision on what additional members to add based on their ability to contribute to the process. In the case of including external customers on the team, consider their potential contribution, the opportunity to enhance the supply chain, the potential to develop strategic alliances, and the current state of your relationship.

In conjunction with forming the team, appoint a project leader to oversee execution of the project. Make sure this person understands their mission and their level of authority.

Kick off the team by assigning roles and setting up team rules. The project leader is not the only person who should have team responsibilities.

Once the team members have established their roles and rules, they need to develop a schedule and a budget. Ideally, the implementation timeframe should not be greater than one month. When the team has completed the administrative task, it is time to begin the implementation process. The first step should be kanban training. This training should explain the concept and offer practical examples of successful implementation. If you are just starting out with kanban, then you may need a consultant to conduct this training.

Finally, top management represents the last brick in the team formulation process. Top management must demonstrate their support for the implementation. They must prevent resistance to change from creeping in and destroying the project. They should deal with those individuals who put up roadblocks by making these individuals responsible for developing and implementing solutions (which support the project timeframe). If top management cannot demonstrate their support, then reconsider kanban implementation.

Chapter 3: Conduct Data Collection


When thinking about kanban, many people get a cold shiver and fear that they will be changing over their production process every ten minutes with excessive scrap and downtime. They think this because they lack experience in kanban and they assume that kanban is an end unto itself. Kanban is an execution system that helps control the process schedule based on actual demand. Kanban is not a magic demon that makes you do dumb things against your will. If these fears do materialize, it is usually because the organization designed a system that was not based on the realities of their current operation.

Therefore, to avoid your own personal nightmare, start the kanban process by documenting your current state. Using the team, take a snapshot in time of your operating parameters, inventory, etc. Look at your organization as it is, not as you want it to be. When you have the data collected, summarize the data to understand the current state in preparation for calculating the kanban. We will use the data gathered in this chapter to calculate the size of the kanban in Chapter 4. Figure 3-1 graphically depicts this relationship.

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Figure 3-1: The Data Collection Process.

Use this two-step process to ensure you have the necessary data for sizing the kanban in Chapter 4:

  1. Gather data

  2. Analyze the data

To further assist in the data collection process, we will present a data collection form and two examples to help explain the process.