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Kanban Made Simple

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Kanban Made Simple

Demystifying and Applying Toyota's Legendary Manufacturing Process


15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Can you create a demand schedule production system that is efficient and market-responsive? You can if you can kanban.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Visit any healthy manufacturing operation and you’ll see a buzz of bewildering activity - parts being moved on overhead cranes, raw materials being wheeled in, line operators checking their production schedules before they change the line over to their next product. Those production schedules, as this book suggests, can really be a hindrance. Operators become dependent on them, although the schedules may not accurately reflect customer demand. The solution? Kanban, which is based on having a communication system right on the factory floor that communicates key indications of customer behavior - buying, ordering, canceling - directly to the workers themselves. Production activity, therefore, is actually scheduled based on customer demand rather than on past expectations, with the advantage that you hold less inventory and operate more effectively. This book (which comes with a compact disc of implementation directions) gives clear insight into this powerful scheduling system employed efficiently by Toyota and other world-class companies. highly recommends it to executives, managers and supervisors of companies that earn their living by making widgets more successfully.


Can You Kanban?

Kanban is a Japanese word for "signboard," and it has become synonymous with demand scheduling. Originally, the system was used to cut costs and manage the utilization of machines. Today Toyota uses kanban to identify bottlenecks and to achieve continuous improvement. Kanbans, developed by Taiichi Onho in the late 1940s and early 1950s, are a key implementation tool for "just in time" (JIT) manufacturing systems. With kanban, products only are produced either to replace goods being consumed by customers or to respond to signals your customers are sending. Key attributes of kanban scheduling include reduced inventory, less overproduction, and greater responsiveness to changes in demand. Kanban can be thought of as demand scheduling - meaning that the manufacturing plant only produces goods based on their actual usage, rather than based on a forecast of what will be consumed in the marketplace. You can use resources more efficiently if you replace your traditional weekly or daily production meeting with kanban.

Team Kanban

Kanban starts with a team. No successful kanban implementation can happen without teamwork. While you might be able to get...

About the Authors

John M. Gross is an avid student of quality control and industrial processes, having held various engineering and management positions in the food and automotive sectors. He is a licensed engineer, a Six Sigma Blackbelt, an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer and an AFE Certified Plant Engineer. He also wrote The Fundamentals of Preventive Maintenance. Kenneth R. McInnis is a Six Sigma Greenbelt who writes extensively on topics related to productivity, and has been published internationally in trade magazines. He has held various management positions in the apparel, automotive and food industries.

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