Glossary for (Japanese) Continuous Improvement Language

What is ‘Kanban’?

‘Kanban’ is a signal for controlling production and inventory on the shop floor.

A kanban is usually a card, container, token or other means to visually signal: “Produce” or “Deliver”.


Beer drinkers now the system: You are drinking from one crate, while a second crate is either;

  • empty
  • or waiting to be replaced with a new one
  • or already full and waiting to be swapped when the current crate is empty
  • or it is on its way to the super market to be swapped for a full one.

An empty crate near the frontdoor means: Bring new one!

The time to replace an empty crate equals the time it takes to empty the current one.

When planning a party, one or more extra crates are brought into the loop. After the party the redundant empty crates are taken out of the loop.

When bought too may, the stock is being used, untill the original level is reached and the normal cycle starts again.

Does kanban needs planning?

There is no need for a detail replenishment planning. The empty crate is the ‘order’.

When crates stay too long in the loop and the beer gets old, the crate is too big. 

When regularly there is no beer, either enlarge the crate, or have an extra crate in the loop meaning either more walks to the shop, or going with more than one crate to the shop.

So the kanban-size needs to be ‘planned’.

Also deviations to the normal situation should be taken care of. But hey… don’t we know already a year in advance that there is are relations between Beer consumption and parties? Or seasons? or…. 

© 1996-2021 Arno Koch. Please contact Arno Koch if you want to use content of this site!