Kanban Simulations

Written by Elisabeth Forsythe
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Many factories and businesses keep a large amount of stock on hand, in case a large order comes in. This typically makes businesses and employees feel safe and secure--they feel prepared in the event of increased demand. But for other businesses, this isn't a practical option. They may not have the space to house a large inventory. Or if it's a business like a supermarket or restaurant, their "parts" might be perishable--a large inventory could go bad before being sold.

Because of these factors, some companies have adopted the Just in Time methodology, that is, they receive just the materials they need, right when they need them. But for this process to work, a reliable system of notification must be in place. If the stock of a certain part is about to run out, a new supply must be ordered immediately. The Japanese formulated the Kanban system for this important task.

Kanban means "visible record" in Japanese. Originally, Kanban cards were used. When a part was used, its card was placed in a bin to indicate a which item had been taken. Then the bins were emptied, and new parts ordered or manufactured according to the cards. Supermarkets today use the Kanban method, but instead of using cards, their scanners send the message to reorder. In this way, they always know when stock is running low, and have a consistent supply of needed items.

You Can Kanban

Implementing a Kanban system can seem extremely risky to some people. They may be anxious about getting parts on time, or slowing down production. There is software available that will create Kanban simulations. With these programs, businesses can see if Kanban is the right choice for them.

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