The Kanban system is crucial for Lean efficiency. It draws on simplicity and visuality to enable tasks to move from inception to completion.
In this article, we look at Kanban’s benefits and share practical steps to action it within your own manufacturing business.
Introduction to Kanban
Originating in the Japanese automobile industry, Kanban embodies a visual workflow. It’s not just a tool – it's also a philosophy that interprets fluctuations in processes through visual cards and columns.
Benefits of using Kanban in Lean
Kanban has numerous advantages, such as improved processes and more motivated teams. It allows for both Lean efficiency and work in progress limits. Plus, it creates a culture of ensuring continuous flow, leading to reduced waste, enhanced quality, and a stable, predictable delivery cycle with minimal disruption.
Practical tips for implementing Kanban
Step 1: Educate your team
Carry out training, workshops, and knowledge-sharing sessions to familiarise your team with Kanban concepts, such as visual workflow, work in progress (WIP) limits, and continuous flow.
Step 2: Define and visualise your workflow
Visualise all the stages of your current work process on a Kanban board, using columns to represent each one.
Step 3: Create task cards
Identify and break down tasks or work items, with each one represented by a card. Include a brief description, the assignee's name, and the expected completion date. Place the cards in the relevant columns according to their status in the workflow.
Step 4: Establish work in progress limits
Define WIP limits for each stage, ensuring a smooth, efficient workflow and that team members aren’t overburdened.
Step 5: Manage and monitor the flow
As jobs progress, move their cards through the columns on the Kanban board. Consistently monitor the flow of tasks to pinpoint any bottlenecks or misalignment with WIP limits.
Step 6: Conduct regular review meetings
Organise frequent meetings with your team to review the Kanban board. Discuss any obstacles, share feedback, explore opportunities for improvement, and celebrate completed tasks.
Step 7: Continuous Improvement
Embrace a culture of Continuous Improvement using data from the board (like cycle time and throughput) to analyse and enhance the process. Establish areas for improvement and iteratively enhance your workflow for better efficiency and effectiveness.
Step 8: Scale and optimise
Consider scaling the system for larger projects or multiple teams. Optimise the Kanban system in line with the evolving needs and challenges of your business.
Step 9: Maintain flexibility
Ensure your Kanban system remains adaptable to project scopes, and changes in the organisation and team dynamics.
Step 10: Share the success
Tell the rest of the business about the victories and lessons learned through implementing Kanban. Encourage other departments or teams to adopt it and support them in understanding the benefits and how to action it.
Introduce Kanban with Manufacturers Network
Implementing Kanban is a cycle of learning, adapting, and enhancing that enables teams to manage work effectively through a visual workflow while continuously improving their processes.
Education is key. You should foster an environment which shares knowledge freely and collectively discusses experiences.
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