Under the guidance of our production manager who has a background in lean manufacturing, we’re one year deep in the process of designing and implementing a Kanban system for ordering materials. A systematic approach, Kanban is a concept that – in its simplest terms – uses a signal to kick-start an action. At CL&D, we’re starting with the ordering of materials we print on and laminate with, and plan to extend the system to ordering supplies, boxes, even press parts.
Physically, the system is a stack of index cards with product info available at your fingertips: part number, when to order and how much, and other notes. The greatest benefit is it’s easier to order because it takes less time, making us more efficient and ultimately improving our bottom line. The biggest “con” then, is the time it takes to implement, especially when demand is not stable. What takes so much time is the “trial and error” of how much you need on hand (usage), factoring in varying lead times, and the actual organization of over 50 giant rolls of substrates.
You also have to get everyone on board, which begins with an education on the benefits of the system – in addition to training (and on top of their regular duties). Like all lean manufacturing concepts, Kanban comes down to eliminating or minimizing waste, which for CL&D equals maintaining accurate inventory and operating efficiently (less ordering time, less idle press time).
Visit: http://www.lean.org/ and do a search on Kanban to find a listing of books to assist you with this concept.