When improvement teams set up kanban loops, they often get very creative about how they actually operate. What follows is an example of one such loop, and then I am inviting comment and replies to some specific questions I have.
The process works like this:
- The items are stored on a shelf in a warehouse. One item per carton. The carton is 60x60x90 cm and weighs about 70kg.
- Next to a shelf there is a box containing the kanban cards for those items. The team is calling this box a “kanban post.”
- One card represents a reorder for five units of inventory.
- When a customer order is received, say for 35 units, the picker pulls the appropriate number of cartons to prepare for shipping.
- Since there are 35 units in the order, and each card orders 5 units, he pulls 7 cards from the “kanban post.”
- He takes the cards to the kanban administrator, who uses them to order new items from the factory.
- When the replacement inventory comes in, it is sent to the shelf location, and the cards are returned to the kanban post.
- The plan is to eventually apply this same process to the other parts in the warehouse (several hundred types of items)
You are a kaizen manager for the company. You are checking on your kaizen teams as they do their work, and discover they are implementing the above process. The kaizen workshop leader who is guiding this team works for you.
What, if anything, would you think about this solution, and what, if anything, would you say to the kaizen team leader?
I am serious – I am looking for input here. I have my views, but I want to hear from others.