Kanban and lean six sigma


Kanban is another concept linked into six sigma. In the 1940s, Toyota optimized its production process in line with how supermarkets stocked their shelves. In a nutshell they only kept o enough stock to meet customer demands. In effect it is matching the flow between the supermarket and the end user,Big reduction in inventory levels are achieved thorough this method. In addition customer service is improved. Toyota at the time would deliver a card of “kanban”, or, to department to indicate that they have excess capacity or production. Although this manual method has evolved with computer it form the backbone of JIT or “just in time” inventory systems and manufacturing today. This can also be applied in service industries.

Characteristics of of Kanban include:

  • Reducing cycle time. Which is the amount of time it takes for a product to move through a production teams work process–from the timework starts to the time it is shipped
  • Creating overlapping skills sets allows for more than one operator to perform the same work. This not only reduces bottlenecks but provides the basis for backup and contingency plans
  • In kanban, it is the whole production team’s duty to make sure that production is moving smoothly through the process.
  • Kanban reduces work in progress (WIP) – multi-tasking is avoided. Visual metrics are key to continuous improvements including control charts and cumulative flow diagrams. This simplifies communication and leads to improved effectiveness.
  • Collaborate in real-time. Be aware of what the team is working on at any moment.

The principles of Kaizen are linked into the lean six sigma training. In this course key components are discussed including:

  • Kaizen,
  • fishbone diagram,
  • lean manufacturing,
  • Total Quality Management (TQM),
  • 5s,
  • Continuous improvement and
  • Overall equipment effectiveness (“oee”) are discussed.





For information please refer to the lean six sigma course.

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