Management

Implementing Kanban Alternatives in Lean Manufacturing

November 1, 2011

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Executive Summary

Manufacturing companies are adopting Lean because of its efficiency—lowering costs and lead-time, while improving quality and performance. In today’s highly competitive and challenging markets, companies need every available advantage.

Many people equate Lean manufacturing with the use of kanbans: physical or visual signals that trigger replenishment. While kanban use is indeed a part of many Lean programs, it is not the only solution for triggering the movement of material. Kanban has its place, but there are more appropriate alternative approaches in situations where kanban is not a good fit.

It is important to remember that Lean is an approach and an attitude—not a specific set of techniques or tools. The most important aspect of Lean is a focus on the elimination of “waste” (i.e. anything that does not contribute directly to making the product). Kanban and kanban alternatives focus on inventory reduction, proper staging of parts and materials (reduced handling and delay), and efficient procurement/production of replenishments.

Consona Corporation

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