This is part 6 of a 6-part step-by-step series on kanban deployment. This article covers specifics of properly deploying kanban cards for inventory items with Break-a-Bin (BaB) replenishment triggering.
Break-a-Bin (BaB) Cards
Deploying the cards for Break-a-Bin (BaB) systems is far easier than it is for Empty-a-Bin (EaB) systems. The main reason for this is that one BaB card always represents a full Kanban Order Quantity (KOQ). For example, if the KOQ is four boxes of 50 items, then every single BaB card will represent 200 items.
To deploy BaB cards, start by sorting your on-hand items into separate quantities equal to the KOQ. Next, pair a kanban card with each full KOQ. If any items remain in an amount less than a full KOQ, these leftover items will not be paired with a card. Finally, just as with EaB, all unassigned BaB cards are scanned and placed on the kanban card to await arrival of the orders they triggered.
Deploying BaB Kanban Cards with Excess Inventory
As with EaB, excess inventory must be given special attention including but not limited to kanban audits, temporary procedures or special exceptions.
For example, typically, BaB cards trigger new orders every time a full KOQ-sized bin of items is opened or “broken”. However, there is an important exception. When you have excess inventory (such as is often the case when first deploying Kanban), a new order should NOT be processed normally for replenishment by the supplier. Instead, items should be replenished from excess inventory until all of the excess inventory is consumed.
Because excess inventory may be in use for months before a steady state is achieved, the “bleed-off” should be monitored so that you don’t inadvertently end up with a stock out. You may also consider using special case Kanban boards until the excess inventory is consumed in order to effectively communicate the exception to associates.
It’s important to recognize that the process for consuming and managing BaB items differs from that of EaB items. The BaB process is outlined below.
- The “active” bin is the bin at point-of-use (POU) that parts are currently being pulled from. As soon as items begin being pulled from a bin it becomes active and the card associated with it is turned in.
- Once the active bin is completely emptied, a second bin is brought forward to become the new active bin.
- The new active bin will have a card paired with it. As soon as the first part pulled from the new active bin, the kanban card for the bin is turned in to trigger a new replenishment order.
- Once the order has been placed for the amount indicated on the kanban card, the card is placed on the Kanban board to await the arrival of the items.
- Once the replenishment order arrives, the order is received, and the card comes off the kanban board and is placed with the items at the POU in a bin behind the active bin. The active bin has no card. It was turned in for processing as soon as the bin was “broken.” Keep in mind that following when the active bin being emptied and the second bin being “opened”, that for a period of time the cards for both bins will be on the kanban board.
Planning for Kanban Deployment Success
Before deploying any cards, it’s important to recognize that kanban solutions can only be effective with careful planning. If you rush any part of the planning or analyses prior to kanban card deployment, you are better off postponing deployment. Not only do you want to avoid wasting valuable time and resources on poorly planned kanban deployments doomed to fail, but you also want to avoid damaging valuable relationships with valuable suppliers and customers.
Remember, with kanban, failing to plan is planning to fail!
When planning kanban deployment, at a minimum, you should consider how you would handle the following common scenarios:
- What if you have so many items due to arrive in open orders that you run out of Kanban cards? You must plan for managing the arrival of (temporary) excess inventory.
- What if an open order will arrive but the quantity that will be received is much lower than the KOQ? You could just let that one card go to POU with an under-filled bin and let it cycle through. Or, when the order arrives, you could place it in the active bin or at least on the floor with an existing card. When you deviate from the planned procedures, however, you put your new system at risk. Proper communication can help keep everything in line. Consider using temporary cards to wait on the kanban board for the small order. The card can give instructions on how to handle this one special situation.
- What if you have open orders that your two cards are assigned to and you have cards on the floor with the inventory on hand, which is already in excess? Additionally, what if the orders that are coming in do not equal a full KOQ, meaning the cards are undersized? Without carefully monitoring excess inventory, you may find yourself short on supplies.
- How will you handle overstock inventory compared to the open orders that will come in with your newly deployed cards? Remember to practice FIFO (first in, first out). Consume the inventory that has been on site before you put new orders on the floor. It’s a good practice even if your items are not perishable or have time limitations for use. However, it’s essential when expiration and manufacture dates affect the customer.
It’s normal for there to be growing pains associated with any systemic change so don’t expect perfect efficiency from day one. However, with diligent planning and execution your facility can reap the amazing benefits of kanban!
That concludes the final installment in this 6-part series on kanban deployment. It’s our goal that you find these articles valuable. Should you have any questions about any of the information provided in our content or about how best to deploy kanban in your organization, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re crazy for kanban!