It makes it possible to control exactly the levels of work-in-progress and parts, and to simplify the flow of information by materializing them by a label or by an electronic signal.


Kanban is the daily mode of execution of the pulled flow system. "Pulling the flow" means ensuring that each station only produces what has just been consumed by the downstream station. In this way, we ensure that we produce only what is really necessary to serve the customer. Operator must change operating mode. In a "push" flow, it awaits the parts and components to produce, and realizes the whole lot in one piece. In pull flow, parts and components are a priori available at the station and the operator produces only if he has the signal which authorizes him to produce the right reference in the right quantity.


Kanban requires to have reliable forecasts. To the extent that it fixes stocks and work-in-progress within strict limits, which must be defined according to the relative quantities of materials, components and products consumed, kanban admits only little variations. It is generally accepted that the kanban loops make it possible to manage variations in relative amounts of about 10%.

  1. The customer produces a piece on his workstation (rectangular labels on the drawing).

  2. The customer will pick up the next piece in the supermarket. This is accompanied by a kanban card (beveled label on the diagram).

  3. The customer separates the kanban card from the part to be made and sends it back to its supplier to indicate that it has just consumed a part of the intermediate stock.

  4. When the accumulation of kanban cards reaches the batch size expected for the supplier's production, the supplier re-starts manufacturing for as many coins as he has free cards.

  5. The supplier puts in stock the pieces he has just sent with their kanban cards.

In the case where intermediate stocks are managed by handlers (internal logistics), then their own activity can be also managed by kanban. There are then two kanban loops: the first, between the customer and the stock to control the replenishment from the stock, and the second between the stock and the supplier to trigger the production and complete the stock after consumption by the customer. The first loop is a "sampling kanban". The second loop is a "production kanban". Conventional formulas for calculating the number of labels in a kanban loop are as follows.

For a production kanban:  D × (A + P + S) N

  • D is the demand in terms of the number of pieces per unit of time

  • A is the queue to pass the reference in production (in the same unit of time)

  • P is the production time necessary to make the reference available (in the same unit of time)

  • S is the number of time units during which the hazards are covered by a security stock

  • N is the number of pieces per container and therefore by kanban label.

For a sampling kanban:  D / N × (S + A × [C +1] / B)

  • D is the demand in pieces per day

  • N is the number of pieces per container

  • S is the number of days of security

  • A is the number of days in the sampling period

  • B is the number of deliveries in this period

  • C is the number of deliveries between the issuing of a label and its return.

Kanban card:

The main information to be displayed is:

  • The designation of the part

  • The customer reference of the part

  • The kanban number

  • The storage address

  • The delivery adress

  • The quantity of part represented by the kanban

  • The dimensions of the packaging represented by kanban

  • The serial number of the kanban (1 from the full loop)

  • 180x80 is an ideal dimension for a kanban card

  • The Kanban method is very economical. It does not necessarily require heavy investments (computer system), improves the reactivity time in all the process (optimization of the delays) and mobilizes few material means (optimization of the loads).

  • An important traceability tool: thanks to the information marked on the label, in particular, the supplier item, a trace is always kept of the origin of the items of each batch

  • The production in small batches facilitates the strict control of the quality of the products. With zero defective parts sent to the chain of consumers located downstream, the probability of having at the end 100% of good parts is increased.

  • This method allows continuous control of the stock size. The regulation of intermediate stock levels is driven directly by consumption. As no parts are produced or moved without Kanban, an increase or decrease in the number of Kanbans in circulation increases or decreases the size of the stock.



Practice from: Benchmark

Contact: A example from FAURECIA

What: Real pull flow system

Gains: Produce just the customer demand. JIT

Assessment level

  • Opex: Axis 4, O7

The leveling box, "Heijunka" box

Practice from: Benchmark




Assessment level

  • The leveling box makes it possible to collect the Kanban in batches.

  • The size is fixed in quantity which makes it possible to know on the queue the time necessary to obtain a lot.

  • As a first approximation, the duration of the batch is chosen to be 10 times the duration of the tool change.

The "small" train

The train connects, in its loop, a set of customers and suppliers:

  • Typical suppliers: Warehouse, stamping workshop...

  • Typical customers: painting workshop, assembly workshop, ...

Practice from: Benchmark

Contact: Eric Nef

What: small train


Assessment level

In order to accelerate internal flows, it is necessary to reduce stocks and increase indirect labor force efficiency.

The "Small Train" alternative logistics solution responds to this by transforming the classic point-to-point delivery mode into a tour delivery mode.

Ensure the functioning of the workshop by supplying: the requested parts, where they are requested (Closest to mount point, Closer to operator's hand.), when they are needed.

The train is a metronome which transmits to the supplier, by regular and defined samplings, information about the customer's consumption, in terms of: Rhythm and type

The waiting line

Practice from: AML factory

Contact: Eric Nef



Assessment level

  • The waiting line is the convenient way to keep the batch order.

  • It represents production scheduling.

  • It must use gravity.


Please contact: AML factory



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