Coordinate the Kanban Plan

Coordinate the Kanban Plan

Once you have an action plan, then you are ready to discuss coordination of the kanban design and how the production process will transition to kanban scheduling. When you consider the coordination process, consider who needs to approve, concur with, or understand the design. People who are probably interested in the plan include the plant manager, the materials manager, the production managers and supervisors, the material handlers, and (last but not least) all the production operators. Once you have determined who needs to buy into the plan, then determine how and what to communicate with them. Also, determine whether there is any specific order you want to followeach organization has its own coordination path , so follow yours.

As you proceed through the coordination process, be prepared for feedback that might change your plans. As a matter of fact, on the first two or three kanbans you implement, expect the rules to undergo several revisions as people begin the transformation to kanban scheduling. Address the feedbackuse what you can and discard the rest. As a courtesy , when you reject suggestions, always explain why you did not accept the suggestion. Finally, to help in implementation, plan the coordination process so the rules are finalized before the start of training.

Identify Who Needs Training

A subject closely related to the coordination process is training. As was true with coordination, you need to identify who needs training and what type of training. When making this list you should consider not only production operators, but also who will move the material and who will use the material. As a good rule of thumb for making this list, consider training everyone who touches the product. Figure 5-23 lists people to consider when making the training list. Also, note that not everyone needs to be trained to the same level and detail.

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Figure 5-23: Who Needs Kanban Training?

The subject of training is so important that we have devoted Chapter 6 to the subject. For now, we'll just say that it's key to the successful implementation and is often overlooked.

Develop a Transition Plan

The last part of the implementation plan is to determine how you will physically transition to kanban scheduling. Some of the questions that you need to consider are:

  • Will this be a running change?

  • Will you need to build inventory to meet the kanban requirements?

  • Will you need any special coverage to oversee the change such as sending the scheduler to third shift for the night the change occurs?

To answer these questions, use the team. By seeking their in-puts you not only develop a cross-functional answer, but you also plant the seeds of coordination and cooperation. Additionally, remember to consider the customer when you make this plan. You do not want to misstep and fail to support the customer (who doesn't care how you schedule).

Special Cases

As you begin to implement more and more kanbans, you will encounter constraints or unique situations ( manning , product mix, quantities , etc.) that complicate the implementation of kanban. When you encounter these situations:

  • Look for commonality in the process

  • Look for unique decisions rules

  • Review your current informal scheduling rules for the process

  • Look at the frequency of the various unique parts

Once you have looked at the problem from these angles, make a determination of whether you:

  1. Can implement a kanban

  2. Can implement a combination scheduling system

  3. Cannot implement a kanban

We have not defined combination scheduling in our previous discussions. Combination scheduling occurs when you place part of the process on kanban scheduling and manually schedule the special case parts.

When analyzing special cases, one method for clarifying the current scheduling rules is by making a decision flowchart that explains how you currently schedule the production process. The flowchart forces you to write down all those unspoken rules that you now use to control the production process. Once you have these rules written down, study them for ways to commonize or simplify the scheduling process to turn these rules into kanban operating rules.

Additionally, look at the production process for ways to consolidate or redistribute the parts to simplify the problem. Once you have simplified the problem, then you may find that the problem gets smaller or that it creates an opportunity to use the questions above to create a kanban design.

When you encounter special cases, don't be discouraged. Analyze the problem and apply the questions above. When you come up with a solution, make sure the kanban rules reflect these decisions. Also, after thoroughly analyzing the problem, don't be afraid to make the decision to not implement a kanban for this process (or these processes). The following sections look at some special cases and suggest ways to implement the kanbans.

Low Demand Mixed with High Demand

What do you do when the production process has several lower demand items? For example, the process has three parts that run monthly versus ten parts that run weekly? In this case, recognize the difference and set up the buffer inventory and kanban schedule quantity to produce the low volume parts at their current interval. Don't be concerned that these parts are out of sync with the other parts that run daily or weekly. By making these changes, you can allow the process to proceed in an orderly flow without having to implement a combination scheduling system.

Variable Manning Requirements

What if the production process has different manning requirements for different parts? First, look for the opportunity to consolidate parts with similar production manning requirements on the same line (lines) in order to eliminate the manning variance. Next, look at the possibility of implementing a combination scheduling system on those lines that still have variable manning requirements. Also, look at the possibility of prioritizing which parts on which lines get the available manpower, and establish a backup product on the line that does not get the extra manning.

More Than One Line Produces the Same Part

What do you do when a production process produces overflow parts for another production process that is over capacity? First, set a standard production quantity for the overflow parts on the secondary line. Next, create rules for the secondary line that requires the production operators to look at the primary line's kanban for its schedule position when making changeover decisions. These rules should instruct the secondary line to change over to the overflow part when the primary line is at a predetermined level.