Material Handling

How to Implement a Smart Storage Kanban System

Everyone loves a Kanban system, but how do you get started?

Building upon our previous discussion on the potential of merging traditional Kanban systems with modern smart storage solutions, it's time to delve deeper into the hands-on approach. This post offers a high-level outline of how to start thinking about implementing a Kanban system.

1. Selecting Parts

The first step in a streamlined system involves identifying which components will be stored in the Kanban. Simple in concept, but deciding which parts to include depends on your exact operation, your bottlenecks, and your goals. Some common examples include:

  • High-Running Part Numbers: It's a common practice to select those components which have the highest run rate. Given their frequent use these parts benefit the most from an organized system that ensures their availability.
  • Consistent Products: If certain products are manufactured consistently, it's advantageous to include all their components in the Kanban. This approach guarantees that production for these products remains uninterrupted.
  • Not just for High Volume: Kanban systems can be used in all types of operations. Smaller operations can effectively turn their entire inventory into one big Kanban with the right processes!

2. Setting Levels

Once you've identified the components, the next step is to set the component levels you'd like to maintain within the Kanban. These levels are often unique to each operation, and take into account each factory's specific processes and possible bottlenecks. Common levels to consider:

  • Minimum component count: In some cases you may want to set a minimum quantity of components to maintain, so that you can always build a certain volume of finished goods without replenishment.
  • Minimum package count: In some cases you may want to set a minimum quantity of packages to maintain so that you can always provide each production line with at least one package to get running.
Your levels should not be arbitrary. Take into account aspects like the duration you'd like the production line to run uninterrupted, the number of boards you anticipate to produce, among other operational specifics like potential supply chain delays.


3. Replenishment Scheduling

With smart storage, replenishment can be a breeze - especially with automated requests and MES integrations. However, it's essential to strategize the frequency and method of replenishment.

  • Signal-Based Replenishment: While smart storage can notify you every time a component is accessed or removed, such real-time alerts might not always be practical. An overload of signals can be counterproductive.
  • Batched Replenishment: A more organized approach involves batching all replenishment needs and setting a schedule. If your Kanban ensures 8 hours of uninterrupted production, consider replenishing every 4 hours, offering a buffer and ensuring continuous availability.
  • Just-In-Time Approach: If you lean towards lean manufacturing principles, you might prefer a just-in-time replenishment model, where components are replenished precisely when they are about to run out. This model requires a more integrated and responsive smart storage system.

Choose the Right Smart Storage System

While the principles of Kanban remain consistent, the effectiveness of your system largely depends on the capabilities of your smart storage solution. Your chosen system should be adaptable, responsive, and aligned with your manufacturing objectives.

Incorporating a Kanban system with smart storage is more than just merging two processes; it's about enhancing the efficiency, accuracy, and predictability of your manufacturing line. If you're keen to explore how a smart storage system can elevate your Kanban process, don't hesitate to get in touch!

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