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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Kanban:   A kanban is a signaling device that gives authorization and instructions for the production or withdrawal (conveyance) of items in a pull system. The term is Japanese for “sign” or “signboard.  ”Kanban cards are the best-known and most common example of these signals. They often are slips of card stock, sometimes protected in clear vinyl envelopes, stating information such as part name, part number, external supplier or internal supplying process, pack-out quantity, storage address, and consuming process address. A bar code may be printed on the card for tracking or automatic invoicing.  Besides cards, kanban can be triangular metal plates, More »
Six Personal Kanban Habits to Avoid
By: Jim Benson | January 12, 2017
Jim Benson, kanban specialist, shares the six most common mistakes found on kanban boards. More »
Advice from the Gemba: Personal Kanbans for Lean Beginners
By: James Connolly, Cameron DiGregorio and Kristen Gandek | May 25, 2017
Kanban boards. For many of us, they were the first visual management tools we used that taught us the benefits of lean. They're simple, effective and easily customizable to suit your own unique work and challenges. Today, three of LEI's relative newcomers to lean share their own personal kanban boards and the impact they've had on their work. More »
Back-to-School Lean: Lunchbox Kanban
By: Deborah McGee | September 7, 2017
Lean thinking is just as impactful on the home front as it is at work. In honor of back-to-school season, LEI Learning Activities Manager Deb McGee shares her experimentations and learnings from transferring the work to the front line, freeing up time and building capability through lean thinking and practice -- her family's lunchbox kanban! More »
Continuous Improvement Using Personal Kanban
A simple, effective management system for digging out of work -- and staying dug out -- to achieve higher quality, better productivity, greater job satisfaction, and peace of mind. More »
Faster than a Speeding Kanban...
By: Brent Wahba | April 12, 2017
"All of us living in Leanworld are well-trained to look for problems, identify gaps, and cure root causes," writes Brent Wahba. But if that's true, why does lean so often fail? Could it be that we often undermine our efforts by trying to be superheroes, trying to fix all our problems in one go? Brent explores. More »
How can kanban or lean possibly apply in an office?
By: Michael Ballè | October 3, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, You often say that one can’t do lean without kanban, and that continuous improvement without kanban is fine, but not lean. My team works on projects in an office, I fail to see how kanban  applies. Are we barred from lean forever? More »
Is kanban relevant to office work?
By: Michael Balle | March 19, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,I understand that kanban is an important part of lean, but I work in an office environment, and it’s hard to see how production orders on cardboard cards relate to improving project management – what am I missing? More »
Mapping your Work, Navigating Life: Personal Kanban
In this one-day immersive experience we will explore the impact of overload on both the individual and the team; politics and "work-arounds" that start quietly and quickly morph into unwritten rules; and smooth work-, information-, and communication-flows that can lead to happier, less stressed, and more effective teams. More »
Personal Kanban: You Can’t Manage What You Can’t See
By: Drickhamer, David | November 13, 2015
Learn how to use a personal kanban board to better manage personal and project work, while improving organization, communication, and morale. More »
Personal Kanban: You Can’t Manage What You Can’t See
By: David Drickhamer | November 19, 2015
Think personal kanban can't be applied to knowledge work? Think again. Drawing on examples from Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Berry's book "Personal Kanban: Mapping Work, Navigating Life," David Drickhamer explains how anyone can benefit from personal kanban, regardless of the nature of their work. More »
Triangle Kanban Calculations
By: Smalley, Art | March 11, 2004
This presentation by Toyota veteran Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull, shows how to schedule batch production using triangle kanbans. More »
If I turn off MRP in favor of kanban, will the factory collapse around us?
By: Ballé, Michael | February 24, 2014
Columns; eLetters
Our sensei wants us to turn off MRP and work with kanban cards. I’m really nervous about this. We’ve been doing a lot of problem solving, but I’m not sure we’re ready. Any insights? More »
Why haven't kanban and value-stream mapping improved delivery from a low-volume/ high-mix process?
By: Ballé, Michael | February 21, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,We work in a low-volume/ high-mix process with component machining and assembly. Our OTD is somewhere between 70% and 80%. We’ve invested heavily in value-stream mapping and kanban, but can’t seem to improve our delivery. Any advice? More »
Lean Roundup: Pull
By: Tom Ehrenfeld | March 30, 2017
A pull system links all production activity to actual customer demand--and creates what one lean thinker calls "an architecture for kaizen.  " Read more about this key lean principle. More »
The 5 Diseases of Prioritization
By: Jim Benson | January 11, 2018
Prioritization is rarely a problem by itself. Instead, it’s a symptom of a set of illnesses: Swervy, Thickets, Costeoporosis, Planemia, Politicitis. Here’s the cure from “Doctor” Jim Benson. More »
The Battle for the Soul of Lean
By: Michael Ballé | March 16, 2018
When elements of lean management began to infiltrate management ranks decades ago, a “great divide” quickly formed, according to author and lean practitioner Michael Ballé. Some managers looked at it as a radically different, disruptive, but complete business system. Others saw it as a set of tools for operational excellence. The gulf endures and determines what results you get. More »
Your Favorite Lean Posts of 2015!
By: Lean Leaper | December 2, 2015
With 2016 fast approaching, we'd like to take a step back and reflect on the most popular Lean Post articles of 2015. Did your favorite(s) make the list? More »
Not a High-Volume Widget Manufacturer? Lean Still Makes Sense for High-Mix, Low-Volume Production
By: Greg Lane | November 12, 2014
If your organization deals with a wide variety of products that incur fluctuating demand and your customers are ever increasing the product range while demanding shorter lead times, you need to continuously experiment and adapt lean methodologies. But if you’ve read the lean management literature, most of which is based on high-volume production examples, you’ve probably decided lean principles don’t fit.  Actually they do. Principals, such as pull production, remain the same, though the methods are adjusted to fit high-mix, low-volume environments. Here’s an example.  Let’s assume you have fluctuating demand across a wide range of products, (displayed by the More »
A Fundamental Question
By: John Shook | December 21, 2010
As I continue to visit your gemba and receive emails (over 500 and counting since I started in September), I am asked many questions. And I ask many in return. I respond to most questions with a question for two reasons: because that's the way I was taught, and because I have found it to be an effective way to facilitate learning. More »
Connecting Assembly with Batch Processes Via Basic Pull Systems
By: Smalley, Art | December 1, 2004
Learn how to tackle the tough problem of how to link assembly to upstream batch processes by selecting one of three signal kanban systems that best suits your manufacturing environment. More »
Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System
By: Steven J. Spear and H. Kent Bowen | September 1, 1999
Steven Spear and H. Kent Bowen explain in the Harvard Business Review how the Toyota Production System can be tightly choreographed and supple.   The key is that Toyota's operations are a series of controlled experiments based on the scientific method. (Follow the link for how to obtain the full article from HBR.  ) More »
Lean Lexicon 5th Edition (eBook)
By: Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. | January 21, 2014
The fifth edition of the Lexicon, first published in January 2003, is 140 pages, containing 60+ illustrations and 207 key terms from A3 Report to Yokoten. The Lexicon already covers such key lean enterprise terms as jidoka, kanban, kaizen, lean consumption, lean production, lean enterprise, pull production, standardized work, takt time, Toyota Production System, and value-stream mapping. It also has a simple, one-page guide to pronouncing Japanese terms. More »
Lean Management Benefits Delayed at Airlines and Aerospace Companies by Traditional Management Practices
By: Chet Marchwinski | July 6, 2011
Lean manufacturing tools such as 5S, kaizen, and kanban are common in aerospace shops and offices, but their effect is hamstrung by the existing modern management system, according to management expert James P. Womack. He  offered attendees at the Lean Flight Initiative conference practical ideas for making the leap from modern to lean management. More »
The Gold Mine (Charts and Maps)
By: Ballé, Freddy and Michael Ballé | May 9, 2005
Charts, Graphs and Diagrams; Images; Value-Stream Maps
Charts, maps, and illustrations of key concepts and lessons in The Gold Mine:An illustration of the breakers assembled by Phil Jenkinson's companyOperator Balance Charts (OBC)Original plant layoutSTR value-stream mapA sketch of how to create a levelled schedule based on takt timeAn illustration of how increased change-overs and deliveries lead to reduced lead-timeKanban in a heijunka box More »
How do I re-size supermarkets when demand changes or to keep pace with seasonality?
By: Ballé, Michael | October 28, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,How do I calculate re-sizing supermarkets when demand changes or to keep pace with seasonality? More »
Lean Physician, Heal Thyself!
By: Phil Coy | August 12, 2015
"We [need] to equip people with the right tools to address the problems they must solve," writes Phil Coy. "New software is emerging that is designed to reduce waste in the process of lean transformation itself.  .. to reinforce lean principles of pull, flow, takt, and leveling.  " More »
In TPM, Isn't it needlessly costly to replace parts that are working fine? What do you think?
By: Ballé, Michael | January 28, 2014
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, I have a question about Total Productive Maintenance. My management has hired a TPM consultant who makes us systematically replace certain parts in our equipment even though they’re working fine. This seems needlessly costly. What do you think? More »
The Obstacle is the Path
By: Deborah McGee | January 20, 2015
Deborah McGee, LEI's Learning Activities Manager, reflects on the most common obstacles she sees people facing when they first try to introduce lean ideas in their organization. McGee offers guidance on how to skillfully persevere despite resistance. More »
Managing Suppliers
By: Ballé, Michael | September 16, 2009
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,We've done a lot of kaizen work in production and have something of a pull system running. We've started measuring on time delivery at every step of the process, and it appears that suppliers account for a large part of our instability. Should we extend the kanban to the suppliers? Is there a lean way to rank suppliers?Suppliers typically account for 40 to 60 percent of costs in bought-out-parts and materials, so it isn't too surprising that they account for a good proportion of problems as well. While ranking suppliers may help, before looking into tools such as More »
Making Materials Flow (Part 1)
By: Harris, Rick; Chris Harris; and Earl Wilson | September 15, 2003
"Apex Tube Company is a typical discrete parts manufacturer, making fuel lines for cars, trucks, and heavy equipment. Several years ago, Apex responded to pressure from its customers for lower prices, higher quality, more frequent deliveries, and more rapid response to changing demands by taking a hard look at its manufacturing operations.  ""One facility — the example used in Creating Continuous Flow — took a dramatic leap to embrace lean production on a plant-wide basis by creating high-performance cells. It also introduced a lean production-control system using kanban to connect a finished-parts market with the pacemaker cells and the pacemaker More »
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