How to Implement a Kanban Pull System

Warehouses and manufacturing facilites often utilize kanban systems.
Warehouses and manufacturing facilites often utilize kanban systems. (Image: warehouse image by Niki from

Companies rely on just-in-time manufacturing processes such as 5S, Six Sigma and Kanban to help improve manufacturing processes and reduce operational downtime, however, consultant David McBride warns that a stable production process needs to be in place before implementing those systems. Kanban systems work by introducing a "pull" signal when a certain level of inventory is reached. The pull signal indicates the business should order more inventory or begin manufacturing replacement products. Measuring and mastering the intricacies of your ordering, purchasing and manufacturing processes provides the base to successful Kanban implementation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clear labeling and easy identification of inventory are key to Kanban pull systems.
  • If your organization's ordering system moves slowly and cannot purchase new items the same day the pull command is issued, include the internal time constraints in the equation when figuring out lead times and appropriate inventory pull triggers.

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