A method to manage and improve processes with in-house tools for manufacturing companies isn’t always an easy task. Using a Kanban board can help your organisation to create an environment where information flows easily and provides an overall view of the shop floor.
By using cards on a board, you create a clear visualisation of the work and get more opportunity to communicate with each other. It allows production workers to be aware of the status and progress of their tasks. In the end, this will create more value and improve better results.
What is the Kanban method?
The word ‘Kanban’ comes from the Japanese ‘kan’, visual and ‘ban’, card or board. In the 1940s, Toyota designed a system to indicate when something should be done and called it Kanban. This method is designed to define, manage and improve work and business processes.
The employees at Toyota used the cards to visualise the steps in their process. The result was better communication between teams about what needed to be done and when it needed to happen. Processes were also standardised and improved, leading to less waste and more value.
Nowadays, we mostly use text to communicate at work. Think of emails, task lists, reports and the amount of information you can find on the Internet. With all this information, people often lose track of things.
Again, the rule applies that a picture says more than a thousand words. This has been scientifically proven: the brain even prefers visual images. No wonder Kanban is a popular tool within Lean and Six Sigma.
4 principles of Kanban
The Kanban method is a way of defining and managing work or production processes, and its ultimate goal is to achieve a more efficient approach to projects. It’s a form of Agile working and is often used in conjunction with the well-known scrumming, although on paper they are competitors of each other.
It’s based on 4 key principles:
1. Visualize work: An important step at the beginning of the process in kanban method is to visualize the work on a physical or virtual board.You can think about what needs to be done and who will be involved in the processes. In the first step, it’s important that the participants brainstorm together so that the status of the activities becomes clear to everyone.
2. Limit ‘work in progress’: Step two focuses on making processes efficient. Focus on the most important activities. To achieve successful results, it’s important in every project or process that priorities are set and completed first.
3. Analyze the workflow: By reducing Work-in-Progress (WIP) time and setting rules for the team, you can eliminate future problems. Make sure that you keep a lookout for any interruptions in your workflow and use these as opportunities for improvement. Your workflow should run smoothly. Choose some flow-metrics to track and analyse them.
4. Adapt and improve: When a Kanban system works well, it will be the basis of a culture of continuous improvement. Team effectiveness can be determined by measuring and analyzing workflows, quality and lead times.
How do you use Kanban?
Kanban can be applied in many different ways. But the starting point always remains the same: producing efficiently. Kanban is all about the power of visual information using cards on a (digital) board that paint a clear picture of work. This overview makes it easier to communicate with each other about the status and progress of the tasks.
Kanban is implemented on a large whiteboard or board using coloured magnets, stickers or post-its. This allows you to easily create categories and makes tasks much more manageable.
Most manufacturing companies use an online Kanban board. This means that employees can easily view data and provide their own input from their computer or tablet. With Azumuta you get an overview of the improvement actions and their status. In this way, employees can easily report improvement ideas or problems.
The benefits of Kanban
Working with a Kanban system can provide many benefits for organisations. The method is transparent, clear, accessible and contributes to better teamwork. With Kanban, you also save valuable time.
1. Transparent: Working with Kanban is very transparent. A clear whiteboard or an online improvement system ensures that all employees know at a glance what is expected of them and what is scheduled. They also easily see which colleague or team lead is working on it. Employees are more likely to ask for help and the overall cooperation runs smoother.
2. Increase efficiency: You can also personalise the boards and obtain insights into the efficiency of your shop floor. This allows you to take tasks off the hands of employees who have a heavy workload and helps prevent burn-out or stress.
3. Better collaboration: Structured workflows and full transparency contribute to efficient teamwork. It ensures that the entire team shares responsibility for moving work toward the end-zone. This empowers teams to make much more agile decisions that move projects forward.
Azumuta with Kanban
Convinced about how Kanban works and eager to get started? We will be pleased to help you!
We apply techniques and methods to make waste and improvements visible. Not only in production but also in quality control and knowledge base. With Azumuta you will easily be able to integrate Kanban on the work floor.