Lean Definition

Kanban – Three-bin system

Kanban is a simple example of the Kanban system implementation might be a “three –bin system” for the supplied parts one bin on the factory floor (demand point) one bin in the factory store and one bin at the supplier’s store. The bins usually have a removable card that contains the product details and other relevant information – the Kanban card.

When the bin on the factory floor becomes empty, i.e. there is a demand for parts, the empty bin and Kanban cards are returned to the factory store. The factory store then replaces the bin on the factory floor with a full bin, which also contains a  Kanban card. The factory store then contacts the supplier’s store and returns the now empty bin with its Kanban card. The supplier’s inbound product bin with its Kanban card is then delivered to the factory store completing the final step to the system.

Thus the process will never run out of product and could be described as a loop, providing the exact amount required, with only one spare so there will never be an oversupply. This “spare” bin allows for the uncertainty in supply, use and transport that are inherent in the system. The secret to a good Kanban system is to calculate how many Kanban cards are required for each product. Most factories using Kanban use the coloured board system (Heijunka Box). This consists of a board created especially for holding the Kanban cards.

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