Develop a Concept That Works for Your Organizational Culture


Develop a Concept That Works for Your Organizational Culture

As you embark on the design, keep the culture of your organization in the back of your mind. Organizational culture will play a big role in implementation success. Consider the level of empowerment that exists in the production operation. Then consider past history. Use this information to develop a scheduling system that fits your culture. Do not select a signal just because you "saw it" somewhere else and it looked neat. Make sure you carefully consider how the production operators will manage the signal and their ability to make decisions based on the signals provided. Use these guidelines when selecting the scheduling signal:

  • Keep the signals simple

  • Make sure that each signal only directs one course of action

  • Don't have duplicate signals

  • Make the signals easy to manage



Kanban Cards

When most people think of kanban they automatically think of kanban cards, probably because the Toyota Production System relies heavily on the use of cards for their signals. But, be aware that many people have strong feelings about the use of cards as signals because of bad experiences with losing the cards or the cards being mismanaged.

What are these mystical items called kanban cards? They are essentially pieces of paper that travel with the production item and identify the part number and amount in the container. The cards can include other information, such as who to call for service or when to take the cards back to the production department. The cards are typically about the size of the old computer punch cards, but they can be any size that works for you. We also recommend that they be brightly colored so that they are easy to spot as they make their way through the process. Figures 5-2 and 5-3 show examples of two kanban cards.

Part Number:

80800-14898

Part Name :

10 V Power Supply

Production Line:

Line A

Container Type:

Plastic 12 14

Container Quantity:

20

Storage Location:

Portable Radio Line

Production Operation:

50

Bin Location:

C-3


Figure 5-2: Kanban Card Used Between Processes in the Same Factory.

Part Number:

80800-14898

Part Name:

10 V Power Supply

Supplier:

Smith Electronics

Vendor Number:

133345

Container Type:

Plastic 12 14

Container Quantity:

20

Delivery Interval:

Daily

Storage Location:

Portable Radio Line

Production Operation:

50

Bin Location:

C-3

Delivery Location:

Dock 5


Figure 5-3: Parts Ordering Kanban Card Used Between Supplier and Customer.

The kanban card serves as both a transaction and a communication device. Kanbans that use cards usually follow this simple routine:

  1. A card is placed with the completed production container (typically, in a protective sleeve of some sort ).

  2. The container with its kanban card is then moved into a staging area to wait for use.

  3. When the container is moved to a production work center for use, the kanban card is pulled from the container to signal consumption.

  4. The kanban card is then placed in a cardholder, or kanban post, to await transit back to the production line.

  5. When the kanban card returns to the production line, it is placed in a cardholder that has been set up to provide a visual signal for operation of the line. (Figure 5-4 is a picture of a cardholder rack.)

    click to expand
    Figure 5-4: Kanban Cardholder Rack.

  6. The kanban card sits in the cardholder waiting to be attached to a completed production container.

Although the cards are conceptually simple, many people have had varying levels of success with the cards. In their rush to emulate the system used by the Toyota Production System, many "would be" practitioners have applied a one-size-fits-all philosophy and ended up with failures or logistics problems when trying to manage the cards. The inappropriate use of the cards and the unjustified shrinking of their inventories drove many materials and production managers crazy trying to keep up. These horror stories also became the seeds of the opposition to kanban and a cornerstone of the MRP production scheduling craze.

So if cards are so bad, then how do you make them work? To be successful with kanban cards, you must make it easy for people to pull the cards. If you set up the kanban so that people have to back-track, then they will forget from time to time. The key to utilizing the cards is to put the card post in the path of the material's flow. Also, make sure the rules specify who picks up the cards and how often to ensure the cards make a round trip. For example, if the parts are staged at the production cell, then place the card post at the first operation in the cell .

When you make kanban cards convenient to use and specify the return loop, kanban cards work just fine.