Integral Logistics Management — Operations Management and Supply Chain Management Within and Across Companies

6.3.1 Kanban: A Technique of Execution and Control of Operations

Intended learning outcomes: Describe the Kanban card as well as the meaning of the term Kanban.

Kanban (Japanese for card, or visible record) is a reusable signal card that passes back and forth between two stations. It is thus a kind of traveling card.

Buffers are kept at the user operation. These stores will contain, for exam­p­le, a maximum number of standard containers or bins (A) holding a fixed number of items (k). The order batch size will be a set of containers (A). The Kanban card is a means to identify the contents of the container and to release the order. The card will look similar to the one in Figure

Fig.        Example Kanban card. (Taken from: [Wild89]).

The term Kanban, meaning signboard, is formed from the characters for “to look at closely” and for “wooden board,” as shown in Figure Kanban was the word used for decorated shop signs that came into use in merchant towns in the late 1600s in Japan.

Fig.        The meaning of the term Kanban

In a personal communication, Prof. Hugo Tschirky (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich) kindly explained the origin of the Japanese word Kanban. The character “kan” is made up of the symbols hand and eye and is derived from the pictograph of a man holding his hand to the brow to shade the eyes in order to better look at something. “Ban,” meaning wooden board, contains the symbols for tree, wood, and wall (a wooden board supported against a wall).

Continuation in next subsection (6.3.1b).

Course section 6.3: Subsections and their intended learning outcomes

  • 6.3.3 Kanban: Long- and Medium-Term Planning

    Intended learning outcomes: Describe the role of a long-term plan (and, if required, a medium-term plan for resources according to an MRP II concept. Identify the lean / JIT principles that must be implemented as prerequisites for a successful implementation of the Kanban technique.