Kanban in Manufacturing

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Jan 31, 2024

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Kanban in manufacturing has proven to be a great production and inventory management system. The system focuses on limiting work in progress (WIP) to improve throughout, promote continuous delivery, and enhance team collaboration. The boards and cards of a Kanban system can also help to reduce lead time and improve customer service. Let's get into the details of how the Kanban system can be used to expedite and better manage the process of manufacturing.

What is Kanban?

The word "Kanban", is a Japanese concept. It refers to a card or board which includes various instructions and tasks for the workers. The Kanban system was developed by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota in the 1950s. It was developed as a part of its Total Production Management (TPM) initiative. The aim was to eliminate waste in manufacturing processes.

Kanban cards are used as visual signals to indicate when materials are needed by workers on the production line. When an item runs low, a card is moved from one location to another to alert workers of their need to replenish stock.

How Does Kanban System Work?

In the kanban system, each item has its own "kanban card" that shows its status in the process. A kanban card is a special kind of ticket that indicates the location of an item in the process and its current stage. The kanban cards are placed on a board next to their corresponding process step.
The Kanban cards are moved from left to right as items progress through their stages, so it's easy to tell what stage each item is in at a glance. When items are finished with one step and ready for another, they've pulled off their original lane and placed into another lane with a larger number on it – this shows how many items are currently being processed in that lane.

Here are 6 steps of how Kanban works:

1. Planning -

In this step, you need to decide on the tasks that will be done in the project and how many resources are required for this process.

2. Create a Kanban board

This is the next step after planning and it involves creating a workflow diagram that will be used as your kanban board. This can be done using any online tool or by hand using simple tools like sticky notes.

3. Label your columns

Label each of your columns with a verb: To Do (in progress), Doing (work in progress), Done (completed). This helps make it clear what each column represents and makes it easy for your team members to see at a glance how many tasks are still outstanding vs how many have been completed.
The goal is to keep work moving through the pipeline as quickly as possible so that it doesn't pile up in one place or get stuck waiting for approval from someone else before starting work on it next week. If you don't have enough work coming into the system to fill up your "In Progress" column, consider adding some more tasks to it so that it's always full of new items that need your attention right now!

4. Limit Work in Progress (WIP)

Limit the amount of work in progress (WIP) to improve efficiency and reduce waste. WIP limits are set based on workflow analysis and historical data. The limit is typically about three to five tasks per column on a Kanban board.

5. Manage Flow with Pull System

Use pull systems to manage the flow and avoid bottlenecks caused by long queues at multiple stages of the value stream. Pull systems include visual signals that enable workers to pull items from upstream steps when they are available, instead of pushing them forward through the process. This type of system reduces waste because it allows you to adapt more quickly to changing conditions without adding extra inventory or creating bottlenecks that slow down or block flow through your value stream.

6. Make Process Policies Explicit

By using policies to limit WIP, you can increase transparency across the team about how each person works best. For example, some people prefer to work from home on Fridays while others prefer working from the office every day of the week.

Kanban in Manufacturing Industry

The importance of a manufacturing company cannot be overstated, but this does not mean that it will not have issues with its operations. Manufacturing companies have to deal with many problems daily, so they need to make use of systems and processes that can help them solve these problems as soon as possible.
Kanban is an inventory control system that allows manufacturers to monitor their stock levels at all times. When they run out of stock, they can place an order with their suppliers so that they can restock their storerooms again.
Kanban helps you implement lean manufacturing principles like eliminating waste and optimising flow through your production system. It does this by providing an easy way to see what needs doing next so that a worker knows what to start on first. This makes sure nothing gets bottlenecked or sits around waiting for someone else to do something with it before it can proceed further down the line.

The kanban system consists of three basic elements:

  1. A card or tag that indicates the amount or quantity of material or product to be produced (a "visual signal").
  2. A limit on the amount of material or product that can be stored at a given location (an "inventory constraint").
  3. A restriction on how long an item can stay in a given location before it must be removed from that location (a "work-in-process limit").

Here are the steps for working with Kanban in the manufacturing industry:

1) Identify all processes involved in making your product

For example, if you're making electronic components, this may include purchasing raw materials or supplies, receiving them into inventory, processing them into finished goods, and then shipping them out to customers or another warehouse location.

2) Identify the bottlenecks and constraints in your process

As you move through your workflow, each step has a limit on how many pieces can be working at that stage before they get blocked by a lack of capacity at previous stages (bottlenecks). This creates clear visual cues for everyone involved so they know what they're supposed to be doing at any given time (or where they're falling behind).

3) Determine which process should be completed first by creating a sequence list

A sequence list can be created by ranking processes by priority. Once the sequence list is created, you can create a kanban board that uses swimlanes to represent the different stages of production. This will allow you to see how many tasks are in each stage and how long it takes for them to move from one stage to another.

4) Use cards or electronic boards so that each stage is displayed clearly for all to see

Once the sequence list has been determined, you can start applying Kanban cards to each process on your board. These cards should include information about what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed. You can also use different colours for different types of tasks so that you can easily see where there might be bottlenecks or other delays in production.

5) Implement changes if needed

If you have multiple bottlenecks, you can split your work into smaller batches and reallocate workers to different tasks. This allows you to see where the bottlenecks are and where they aren't.

Benefits of Using the Kanban System in Manufacturing

Kanban software offers several benefits over traditional project management tools. Here are five ways it can improve your business.

1. Improved productivity

Kanban allows businesses to reduce waste by limiting the number of parts they need on hand at any given time. This means that manufacturers have less money tied up in inventory and more money available for other purposes like research and development or marketing.

2. Better communication

A major benefit of using Kanban is that it improves communication throughout your organization. You can easily create visual queues that let people know what stage their work is at and when it will be completed. This helps reduce bottlenecks and improve efficiency.

3. Better resource utilization

Because there are fewer items in progress at any given point in time, each worker can focus on producing one thing at a time instead of multitasking between multiple projects with varying priorities and deadlines that could change at any moment.

4. Better planning capabilities

Another benefit of using Kanban cards is that they help you plan more effectively. You can use them to predict when materials will run out or when projects will finish by tracking them from start to end on your Kanban board. This allows you to make better decisions about what work needs doing now, what can wait until later, and how much time each project will take.

5. Lower costs

When businesses have fewer parts on hand, they will spend less money on storing those parts, which reduces overhead costs over time. They will also spend less money maintaining their warehouses because there will be fewer products needing maintenance or repairs over time.

6. Faster response times

With Kanban boards, you can easily see when you need to step in and help someone with their work so they can keep up with the demand. This allows you to find bottlenecks before they become too big of a problem for your business.

7. Improved quality control

As soon as something goes wrong on a board, it becomes immediately obvious because items will pile up behind it until they're fixed or removed from the board. This helps prevent small mistakes from becoming big problems later in the process.

8. Increased customer satisfaction

By having fewer parts on hand at any given time, manufacturers will be able to ship orders more quickly, which means that customers will receive their products faster than they would otherwise — increasing customer satisfaction rates across the board.

Kanban Examples in Manufacturing

A manufacturer uses Kanban cards as part of their material handling system. The cards are used to indicate the quantity or volume of materials available at various locations throughout the plant. The cards are moved from one location to another as needed by operators. This helps them know when materials need to be picked up so they can complete the job at hand.

The best Kanban example in manufacturing is the Just-in-Time system. It was developed by Taiichi Ohno in Japan. In this process, parts are produced only when needed and delivered directly to the assembly line. Each step is measured for efficiency and effectiveness by analysing the production cycle time and reducing it as much as possible.

Also Read: Kanban Inventory Management


Kanban in manufacturing helps companies improve their processes by providing a visual overview of their workflow. It also allows companies to limit the amount of inventory they have on hand and plan for future needs. Kanban training can help you gain the skills needed to use this method effectively. It offers numerous benefits to your business. Kanban certification is designed for people who have the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to implement Kanban systems in their companies. These courses include hands-on experience with various types of Kanban boards, cards and other tools used in lean manufacturing processes.

Also Read: Kanban For Marketing 


1.What is the Kanban system in manufacturing?

 Answer: Kanban is a visual system that manages inventory levels and improves production flow.

2.How does the Kanban system work in manufacturing?

 Answer: Kanban uses cards or signals to control inventory and ensure just-in-time production.

3.What are the benefits of implementing Kanban in manufacturing?

 Answer: Kanban reduces waste, improves efficiency, and enhances overall productivity in manufacturing processes.

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