Kanban is a scheduling system for lean manufacturing and just-in-time manufacturing. Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, developed kanban to improve manufacturing efficiency. Kanban is one method to achieve JIT. The system takes its name from the cards that track production within a factory. For many in the automotive sector Kanban is known as “Toyota name plate system” and as such some other auto makers won’t use the term Kanban.


What is ‘Kanban ‘

A specific type of inventory control system. The kanban system is based upon a series of colored cards. These cards denote such factors as quantity, the type of part and the manufacturer. A card is placed in the bin or other container with each group of manufactured items as an identifier for those involved with the next phase of production or distribution.

Explaining ‘Kanban ‘

Kanban is a Japanese term meaning signboard or graphic. Cards appear as the container of goods or materials is emptied, allowing the production and delivery of more before a hold-up or shortage develops. These cards may have several colors that are ordered according to priority. Frequently a two-card system is employed where “move” cards are employed to move goods from one area of production to another, while “production” cards that replace materials after they are sold or used.

Further Reading

  • Lean manufacturing case study with Kanban system implementation – www.sciencedirect.com [PDF]
  • The effect of supply chain noise on the financial performance of Kanban and Drum-Buffer-Rope: An agent-based perspective – www.sciencedirect.com [PDF]
  • Improving the logistics of a constant order-cycle – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Service-level performance of MRP, kanban, CONWIP and DBR due to parameter stability and environmental robustness – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Whose experience do we care about? Analysis of the fitness of scrum and kanban to user experience – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Empowering Kanban through TPS-principles–an empirical analysis of the Toyota Production System – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • The search for the optimal number of kanbans in unstable assembly-tree layout systems under intensive loading conditions – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Flexible kanbans to enhance volume flexibility in a JIT environment: a simulation based comparison via ANNs – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Takt Time Grouping: implementing kanban-flow manufacturing in an unbalanced, high variation cycle-time process with moving constraints – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • A case study of kanban implementation within the pharmaceutical supply chain – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]