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Topic Title: Kanban & Supermarket Relation
Topic Summary: Kanban & Supermarket Relation
Created On: 07/08/2009 10:07 AM
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07/09/2009 09:03 AM
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Ming Xue

Dose anyone can tell me exactly the relation between kanban and supermarket? I was told that kanban can only come from a supermarket. For example, we want to implement kanban between customers and us. In this case, our production will be triggered by customer's kanban. Do we must setup supermarket at the customer side in this situation, to use customer kanban trigger our production?
A bit confused....
07/10/2009 01:21 PM
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Jonathan Ryan

Hi Ming,

I will give you my understanding of the relationship and how it may apply in your situation,

My belief is that a parts supermarket is used only when you cannot create flow. It is a buffer used to carry the minimum amount of inventory based on a PFEP (plan for every part). That said, when setting up a supermarket, you would use your pacemaker process (usually the point of demand, which generally would be the last step in the assembly/mfg process) to drive successive replenishment through use (basically a "take x number of parts, make x number of parts approach".

So if your pacemaker process takes 20 of part A, assuming the replenishment increment is 20, you would use a kanban (card, empty bin, whatever) to trigger replenishment of those 20 parts. The process that supplies those parts will use that kanban as the "OK" to produce those parts, pulling components from thier parts supermarket to make the order of 20. Eventually, they will use enough components to trigger a kanban to replenish whatever they used. you can see how the actual usage of materials is what triggers upstream activity, all the way up to the first step in your process.

So very naturally, the replenishment from your vendors would come as a result of a kanban at your most upstream process. It would dictate how much of what you need, I'm not saying the actual procurement of needed materials wouldn't be coordinated by a materials group and your vendor, but the kanban would be the trigger for replenishment.

Hope this help a small bit.

07/10/2009 01:22 PM
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Mark Rosenthal

It's a little hard to directly answer your question in a forum because there are entire books on the subject, and a lot of "it depends" answers. There are a lot of ways to do it, and the details are dependent on the situation.

Toyota's web site has some good high-level tutorials and videos on how it all works there. They would be a good place to start.

The videos are here:

Click on the "Just in time" tab and you will see how their kanban system works.

See if those answer your questions or help clarify things.
07/10/2009 01:23 PM
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Wayne Marhelski

Kanban is just a signal that more material is needed. Where that material comes from is irrelevant. While the preferred method would be to pull material directly from the machine, pulling material out of a supermarket is fine as well.

Both kanban and supermarkets are used because there is a disconnect or imbalance in the process. The challenge is to try and figure out how to eliminate both. Remember, if everything is running smoothly, then it is time to either drop a kanban out of the system or reduce the amount of inventory in the supermarket. Kanban or the use of supermarkets are not meant to be a permanent fix.

07/10/2009 01:23 PM
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Lonnie Wilson

Hello Ming,

Yes I think you have it. Kanban is many things but here you are talking about a replenishment system designed to create an optimum balance of customer service, and minimum inventory. In this case the customer who is being supplied is very likely the production dept of your customer, and yes you will need some inventory there. The supplier to the produciton department sounds like his own warehouse and he willneed some inventory there. And you are a supplier to the warehouse, the warehouse being your customer. So as the production department withdraws materials, kanban are removed and the warehouse then transports the kanban to you, and they go into your produciton system, as a work order to replenish the stock which was removed from your customer's warehouse.

stay in touch,

Lonnie Wilson
07/10/2009 01:24 PM
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Vishnu Rayapeddi

Hi Ming,
Supermarket is a like a mini warehouse within the plant or at the end of the final process, so that you keep only small amounts of stock at any one point. One can set-up minimum and maximum stock levels for the supermarket. When the stock level falls to certain pre-determined level (re-order point) a Production Kanban is raised to produce certain amount of stock to bring back the stock level to your maximum level.
As regards your question of implementing Kanban between your customers and you, yes, you can do it. The idea of supermarket is to safe gaurd you against any fluctuations in demand by keeping some buffer stocks in your supermarket. If you are producing ONLY on demand and your customer is okay to wait till you produce the product, then its okay not to have any buffer stock / supermarket stock. In such a situation, your customer order can trigger your production or in other words it becomes a Kanban for production.
I hope this makes sense.
Vishnu Rayapeddi
Productivity Solutions Limited
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