Factories are complicated and busy places – and making sure all work is done can be difficult. That’s where the Kanban, or signboard system, fits into the Toyota Production system.
Kanban (English: Signboard): A system that conveys information between processes and automatically orders parts as they are used up. Every item or box of items that flows through the production process carries its own kanban. Kanbans come off items that have been used or transported and go back to the preceding processes as orders for additional items
Though literally translated as ‘signboard’, the Toyota-developed method has become known as a clear, sign-based scheduling system triggering the logistical chain of production and maintaining it at an optimal level.
Kanban displays can broadcast lots of different types of information, from stock levels to production volumes. In its simplest form a kanban board will show goods in, goods in production, and goods out.
Over time, Toyota has evolved this considerably.
Kanban is the quick-response system through which Just-In-Time production is achieved, harmonising inventory levels with actual consumption. Toyota has six rules for the effective application of Kanban: 1) Never pass on defective products; 2) Take only what is needed; 3) Produce the exact quantity required; 4) Level the production; 5) Fine-tune production; and 6) Stabilise and rationalise the process.
Removing faults from production is central to the Toyota Production System – another way this happens is through use of the Andon cable, find out about it here.