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What Is Kanban? (Kanban Definition - Kanban Meaning)

Kanban takes its name from the cards that track production within a factory. It's a scheduling system for lean manufacturing and just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing.

Kanban Definition

In Japanese, Kanban (看板) means signboard or billboard. Taiichi Ohno (February 29, 1912 - May 28, 1990), an industrial engineer at Toyota, developed Kanban to improve production effectiveness and decrease wastes.

Kanban ended up being an efficient framework to support running a production system as a whole and an excellent way to promote improvement. Identification of the lead time and the cycle time of a given process and its associated sub-processes, and incompatibilities among them highlight problem areas.

One of the main differences of Kanban compared to other processes is that it explicitly establishes an upper limit to work in progress inventory to prevent overcapacity. Less is more to get results (Remember how the Google landing page looks like). However, as human beings, we are tempted to get trapped with Complexity Bias.

Kanban establishes maximum limits on the number of products waiting at supply points. Afterward, the Kanban team identifi es and addresses any inefficiencies in their workflow. Whenever a limit is not honored, this points to an inefficiency to be sorted out and a process improvement potential to be exploited.

Therefore, it's safe to say that the primary goal of a Kanban system is to restrict the accumulation of excess inventory. The purpose of the Kanban team is to eliminate this excess inventory at any point in production. That will lead to better allocation of available resources (human, tools, financial) to increase business throughput and profitability, and to remove wastes, bottlenecks in the processes.



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