Using the Workbook

Using the Workbook

Use the CD-ROM Workbook to help document the design. The design forms will serve as an outline to lead you through the design planning, rule formulation, and the visual management plans. The required training form will help to make a list of who needs to be trained. Additionally, action items forms and action plan forms will provide a format for assigning action items and documenting the coordination and transformation plans. (Training elements will be covered in Chapter 6 of the CD-ROM Workbook .)


Once you have determined the kanban quantities , the next step is design of the kanban scheduling signal. This chapter provides several design options for your consideration, adoption, or modification. Whatever signal you select or create, make sure it fits the culture of your organization.

When you have determined what type of scheduling signal you will utilize, then develop rules to control the operation of the kanban. The rules should include the following items:

  • The part numbers covered by the kanban

  • How the design workshow the cards, magnets, etc., move

  • The meaning of the scheduling signals and how to interpret them

  • Any scheduling rules of thumb (if required)

  • The preferred production sequence (if one exists)

  • Who to go to and what the "helpers" should do when contacted

  • Any special quality or documentation requirements

Remember, you draft rules to communicate how to run the kanban and to allow the process operators to schedule the line. The only way the production operators can take over scheduling the line is by having rules that provide clear direction and scheduling guidance.

After you have the rules developed, develop a visual management plan to communicate how the kanban operates. Anticipate what questions are likely to arise from people operating and supporting the kanban and develop a visual management plan that answers their questions and guides them.

Finally, develop an implementation plan for deploying the kanban. The plan should address laying out the kanban, coordinating the design, training all participants , and the actual transformation from the current scheduling system to kanban scheduling.

Chapter 6: Training


Chapters 4 and 5 helped you to size and design your kanban. You created the framework for controlling the operation of the line and allowing the operators to manage their schedule based on the rules you created. Now comes the time to start the deployment of your design. The deployment of the kanban will consist of training everyone who is involved in the operation of the kanban and in the set-up of the kanban itself ”signals, control points, signs, etc.

This chapter discusses creation of training material and training implementation. Our focus will be on developing the necessary material to explain how the kanban operates and what actions each participant performs . We will also develop a game plan for getting this training done before we implement the training.

In Chapter 7 we will discuss the actual startup of the kanban. However, if you do not train the people who must operate and interact with the kanban, then long- term success is questionable. Figure 6-1 shows how our kanban process flow expands to include training.

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Figure 6-1: Expanded Kanban Process Flow.

Developing Your Training Material

Using the training list you developed in the last chapter to identify who needs to be trained, determine what type of training they need to fulfill their part of the operation.

For example, the material handlers probably don't need much training on making scheduling decisions. However, they will need to understand how you want the material to move and how to handle the scheduling signal ”moving the magnets or chips on a board, for example.

When creating the training, focus on how the kanban will work. We suggest the following outline for training:

  • Kanban basics

  • How kanban will work

    • What is the signal?

    • How will the material move?

    • Review of the rules

  • What are the scheduling decisions and the rules for making the decisions

    • Use example of different schedule conditions to teach how and what decisions to make

  • Discuss when to call for help and what to do specifically when encountering a red signal

  • Conduct a dry run

Although this list seems long, if you prepare properly and focus the information, then you can convey all this information in seven to ten charts . Figure 6-2 shows the layout of a draft presentation.

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Figure 6-2: Draft Presentation Layout.

Kanban Basics

When talking about kanban basics, avoid a lengthy discussion of kanban theory. Instead keep the discussion focused on what kanban is and what it will do for them. Some of the points that you should include:

  • Kanban is demand-based scheduling . You supply product based on usage.

    • They will no longer receive a schedule. The kanban signal will be their schedule.

    • Use this opportunity to tell the operators that you will train them on how to use the kanban schedule and you will be there to help get them started.

  • Kanban scheduling is more than just an inventory reduction strategy ”it improves flow, reduces or eliminates unexpected schedule changes, and allows them to control the line's operation.

Figure 6-3 shows examples of two training charts for covering the topic of kanban basics.

start figure

What is Kanban?

  • Kanban is demand-based scheduling

    • It matches use (or demand) to production

  • It replaces forecasted schedules

  • Operated by operators instead of schedulers

    • Scheduling done with pre-established rules

Kanban Benefits

  • Reduces inventory

  • Improves material flow

  • Simplifies operations

  • Allows visibility into the schedule

    • Reduces or eliminates unexpected schedule changes

end figure

Figure 6-3: Training Charts for Kanban Basics.

Kanban Operation

Next move on to how the kanban will operate . Be specific about what the kanban signal is and how it moves through the process. Discuss in detail how the signal moves. Also show an example of the scheduling signal. Make a diagram that shows this flow. Use the diagram and the scheduling signal to reinforce how the signals flow. Finally, discuss what-if scheduling decisions. Figures 6-4 to 6-9 show potential charts for the ten-part number example using the rules and the flow diagram from Chapter 5.

start figure

Line 1 Kanban Operation

  • Empty containers are the kanban signal

  • Use the preferred sequence to determine which item to run next.

    • Run full containers

  • If a red signal occurs then contact the supervisor before changing over

  • Questions ”see your supervisor or the materials scheduler

end figure

Figure 6-4: Training Chart for Kanban Operations.

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Figure 6-5: Training Chart for Kanban Flow Diagram.

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Figure 6-6: Training Chart for Kanban Rules.

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Figure 6-7: Training Chart for Kanban What-If: Example 1.

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Figure 6-8: Training Chart for Kanban What-If: Example 2.

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Figure 6-9: Training Chart for Kanban What-If: Example 3.

If you are using a board of some type, then have a picture of the board. As an alternative, create a diagram of the board's layout to use during training. The picture or the diagram will make a good visual aid and help in discussing the scheduling decisions.

Discuss the rules for operating the kanban. Go through each rule to make sure everyone understands the rules and their meanings. As you discuss the rules, be sensitive to any confused looks or verbal feedback from the group being trained. Their confusion means that something needs to be clarified or modified. Do not be afraid to make changes if that will help to create a successful launch. (If you do make changes, then make sure you coordinate the changes and revise the documentation.)

Once everyone understands the basic flow and how the kanban will operate, it's time to explain how the scheduling process will work. After explaining the process, walk the operators through the various signals. Develop what-if scenarios that force the operators to make decisions. Ask them what decision they would make and then discuss why they made that decision:

  • If they made the correct decision, congratulate them.

  • If they made the wrong decision, explain what they should have done.

Avoid being critical. You want them to take ownership of the process, not be paranoid that they will make the wrong decision. Develop enough scenarios so that you can go through the process several times ”you want the operators to become comfortable in the decisions they will make.

Finally, discuss under what conditions operators should call for help. These are the "1 percent of the time occurrences" that require additional help. (If you included all the what-ifs in the kanban rules, then they would be ten to twenty pages long.) When one of these events pops up, then the rules should instruct the operators whom to contact. Also, make sure the contact person knows what they should do when contacted.

A special case requiring help is the red, or danger, signal. This signal, which most people think means to hit the panic button and stop the presses, is meant as a warning. The red signal, if properly used, warns the operators of impending danger so that corrective action can be taken. Therefore, tell the operators what to do when the red signal occurs. If they are to contact someone or take a specific action, then tell them who or what it is!

Conduct a Dry Run of the Kanban

Remembering that Murphy was an optimist, consider conducting a dry run of the kanban. The dry run becomes particularly important for kanbans with materials located over a large geographical area or in multiple staging areas. This dry run should involve representatives from the various groups that must operate or support the kanban. The intent of the dry run is to:

  • Look for flaws in the design

  • Make sure that everyone understands their role

When you conduct the dry run, make sure you have prepared training information ”the rules and the flow diagram. Set up scenarios with your scheduling signal and discuss how the participants will react to each scenario. If completion of the various actions requires movement of the cards, magnets, or chips, then have the appropriate person do so.

The intent of the dry run is to make sure that everyone understands their role and to discover any flaws in the plan. You cannot achieve these goals by sitting in a classroom or an office. The key to a successful dry run is working through the signals and learning from the actions and comments.

Therefore, take your group out and touch the hardware! If the dry run does not take place in the area where the kanban will take place, then it isn't a dry run. Lastly, don't miss the opportunity to modify the design now and avoid costly mistakes and miscommunications after the kanban has started.

Listen to the feedback from the dry-run participants. Be sensitive to their verbal and nonverbal communication on:

  • What they don't understand

  • What they don't like

  • What mechanisms they find awkward

As you identify these items, discuss them with the group and determine what needs to change. Once you have made a decision, then trial it with the group. If it proves out, then revise the documentation and conduct any necessary retraining .

If you follow this basic outline you should be ready to provide the necessary training. Although the proposed training is short and to the point, it remains focused on the main training objective ”preparing people to operate the kanban.