Pull: A Way Forward for Supply Chains – Guest Post by John Shook

The release of Christoph Roser’s new book All About Pull Production inspires John Shook to discuss the origins and true meaning of “pull” and why it is incorrect to blame JIT for the shortcomings of global supply chains.

Guest post by John Shook based on his foreword in my book, and also a Cross-Post with Planet Lean. Many thanks, John!

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What Is a Good Minimum for the Supermarket?

An empty standard EUR pallet
Prevent a stock out!

A minimum level in a supermarket gives you a warning that a stock out is imminent. Hopefully it also gives you enough time to prevent such a stock out, even though this may result in firefighting. In my last post I talked on how to use a minimum level. This post will look at how to determine a good minimum level.

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How to Use a Minimum in a Supermarket

Warning: Toilet Paper Stock Out Imminent!
Warning: Toilet paper stock out imminent!

The kanban formula (or estimation) helps you determine the number of kanban. All of these should fit in the supermarket, hence the maximum in the supermarket represents all kanban. Many supermarkets also have a minimum inventory level. Unfortunately, there is little information on how to set the minimum. Time to take a deeper look on how to set and use the minimum level in the supermarket. In this first post I will look at how to use a minimum level in a supermarket. The next post will look at how to determine a good minimum level.

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Production Control with COBACABANA

The Copacabana is a very nice beach in Rio de Janeiro. Spelled slightly differently, COBACABANA is a production control approach. Here, COBACABANA stands for Control of Balance by Card Based Navigation (sometimes also abbreviated to COBA). It is an approach to manage a job-shop workload of custom orders using paper cards. A lot of paper cards, in fact, which also makes the method a bit complex, and I am doubtful if this method is practical. Let me show you how it works.

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How to Make CONWIP Loops

CONWIP-go-round with different jobs: like a roller coaster with different people

CONWIP (Constant Work in Progress) is an easy way to establish pull production for custom-made products. Traditionally there is only one large loop for the product. However, there may also be situations where it is sensible to split a longer CONWIP loop into smaller segments. Let’s have a look at the details.

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Should You Use Physical or Digital Kanban Cards?

One Process Kanban LoopKanban and similar pull systems like CONWIP or POLCA are basic parts of lean production. They limit the maximum number of parts by attaching a sort of token (i.e., the kanban card) to the part, and return to the beginning when the part leaves the system.

These kanban can be physical cards or digital representations. In this post I look into when you should use a physical kanban and when you should use a digital kanban.

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Different Ways to Establish a Pull System – Part 2

This is the second post on different types of pull production. It features the less commonly known approaches of triangle kanban, drum-buffer-rope, reorder point (surprise, yes, it is a pull system),  reorder period (also a pull system), and FIFO lanes. In my previous post I showed you the kanban system and its variant, the two-bin system, as well as CONWIP and the kanban-CONWIP hybrid.

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