Kanban | The Time To Signal !!

Kanban is a term often used in the manufacturing workplace but what does it mean and what can it do for my business. This article describes the concept of the Kanban theory along with an explanation as to what it can do to make your manufacturing workplace more efficient.


The word Kanban as you may already know comes from Japan. It is an easy translation from Japanese to English. “Kan” means “card” whilst “ban” means “signal”. This card signalling concept is used to prompt “action”. The Kanban concept is one of the key players in “Lean manufacturing”. Companies that have introduced this concept in their workflow have achieved anything up seventy five percent inventory reduction in their process.

What does a Kanban do?

In simple terms, it triggers an action. If the Kanban signals that stock is in need to be  replenished then this culminates in action to replenish a certain production area. Often this is used in a just-in-time manufacturing environment or where there may be bottle necks in a production flow.

The key is to make sure how many cards are required for each item that is being produced. It’s a process that involves fine tuning of the manufacturing process and systems that can interface with supplier scheduling systems.


Production flow and continuity are essential in order to keep optimisation at a maximum.
Downtime (unplanned that is) is a waste of company time and resources and results in high unit manufacturing costs. None of these elements lend themselves to making profits and being best in class.

The Kanban ensures that flow is kept at a steady rate whilst keeping the investment in  inventory low (car manufacturers are usually masters of this concept) and efficiency high. The card system also controls the movement of stock from one manufacturing unit to another. This again ensures smooth flow and increased productivity.

If an organisation can get the Kanban concept right then the results can be tremendous, lower inventory, lower waste, lower work in progress and the ability to prevent over production.


Take control of your production and introduce the Kanban concept. It will release cash back into your business as you reduce the requirement to invest in inventory; you reduce over production and maintain a steady workflow this optimising your unit manufacturing costs.

  • LinkedIn

©2008 -2018 Nigel P Penhearow