The Bottleneck Walk – Practical Bottleneck Detection Part 1

Five empty green wine bottlesThe bottleneck walk is far and wide my most favorite method to detect bottlenecks on the shop floor (not only because it was developed by me, but also because it is really good!). You can detect shifting bottlenecks, using no math whatsoever and no time measurements, simply by walking along the production line and observing the line. It’s almost too easy to believe, but it works like a charm! Due to the length of this topic, I have broken the article into two posts. This first post details how to find the current temporary bottleneck. The second post details how to determine the big picture regarding the bottlenecks. See below for a complete list of posts on this series on bottlenecks. 

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How Many Kanbans? – Estimation Approach and Maintenance

Number of Kanban
How many Kanban?

In my previous two posts, I described how to calculate the number of kanbans (Post 1 and Post 2). However, this calculation is complex, and the result is nothing more than a very rough estimate. Hence my preferred method for determining the number of kanbans is, broadly speaking,  “just take enough, and then see if you can reduce them.” In this post, I would like to explain this approach and also discuss how and when to update the number of kanbans.

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How Many Kanbans? – The Kanban Formula, Part 2

Number of Kanban
How many Kanbans?

This is the second post on kanban calculation (if possible, please read the first post on kanban calculation first). There are two possible approaches. First, you can calculate the number of kanbans using a kanban formula (due to its length, split into a first post and this second post). Alternatively, you can estimate the number of kanbans and adjust the system as it is running (as shown in a third post).

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How Many Kanbans? – The Kanban Formula, Part 1

Number of Kanban
How many Kanbans?

One frequent and tricky question when designing a pull system is to determine how many kanbans to use in the system. There are two possible approaches. First, you can calculate the number of kanbans using a kanban formula. Due to the length of the process, I have broken this into two posts (For the second part click here). Alternatively, you can estimate the number of kanbans and adjust the system as it is running (as shown in a third post).

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Cost of Complexity

Array of carsThe cost of complexity can significantly impact the bottom line of manufacturing companies. According to A. T. Kearney, the top 30 companies in Germany could earn €30 billion more if they would reduce complexity, increasing their EBIT by three to five percentage points.  After discussing the cost of complexity in a previous post, using the Maybach as an example, this post describes the general levers influencing complexity cost.

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The Problem of Losing Kanban – Different Kanban Types

Kanban cardPull production using Kanban is one of the major achievements of the Toyota Production System and hence lean manufacturing. The work in progress is limited by the number of Kanban. Overproduction is avoided by producing only if a part is taken out of the supermarket and the Kanban card is returned to the start of production. However, this Kanban system works only if the Kanban  returns to the start of production. Losing Kanban means not reproducing goods sold. In this post I would like to talk about different methods to prevent the loss of Kanban, including different Kanban types.

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Evolution of Toyota Assembly Line Layout – A Visit to the Motomachi Plant

Current Layout of Toyota Motomachi PlantToyota is a company that is constantly evolving, aiming to reduce waste. Over the last few years, I have heard about changes to the Toyota assembly lines to improve efficiency.  During a recent trip to Japan, I was able to observe the assembly line at the Motomachi plant. In this post I will show the evolution of line layouts at Toyota.

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Simple Triangle Kanban System for Office Supplies

One Process Kanban LoopKanban systems are a huge help in industry, ensuring a steady availability of parts and products without excess stock. However, Kanbans are not necessarily limited to industrial use. In this post I will describe a simple Kanban system for office supplies. This system is also sometimes known as triangle kanban. One benefit of this system is that it will improve the availability of pens, paper, and other supplies. However, a second major benefit is that this provides a risk-free opportunity to  train your people in creating and using Kanban systems.

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