Long known for its use by software maintenance teams and game developers, Kanban is increasingly becoming known as a go-to methodology in the manufacturing industry. The concept is essentially a tool that can help manufacturers achieve a streamlined, systematic workflow, one that focuses on the elimination of wasteful policies and processes. Some companies are jumping onboard for all the wrong reasons so they’re not experiencing the benefits of Kanban in manufacturing. Here are some scenarios that should not be motivators for applying Kanban at your facility.
1. To Manage Large Processes
When you have business processes incorporating several steps that can’t be split into manageable tasks, Kanban might not be the best fit for your business. However, it’s important to note that there is likely an underlying reason that you can’t split your processes – such as formulating them improperly from the beginning. Another critical point for success in implementing Kanban is that it works most effectively when the processes are roughly equal in the number of tasks.
2. To Replace Retrospective Meetings
Many manufacturers find meetings to be a waste of time as they don’t make processes more efficient. Managers may believe that bringing Kanban theory into the workplace can replace holding meetings. This is a mistake considering many manufacturing companies utilize a substantial contingent workforce. Retrospective meetings can be useful for all when conducted properly. One tip is to always leave the gathering with specific action items that must be completed by designated departments or individuals. Kanban isn’t an effective tool for companies that aren’t willing to dedicate time to meetings and execute action items.
3. To Fix Inefficient Processes
If your facility has difficulty at stages along the manufacturing process, preventing your team from turning out a consistent, usable product, Kanban won’t help you repair the issues. There may be dozens of reasons behind the broken or inefficient processes, so it’s important to get to the root of the problem – or the people behind them. It’s possible that you’re not properly training and managing your contingent workforce, creating bottlenecks in your process.
4. To Avoid Utilizing Cross-Functional Teams
Companies that share workers among different projects will not experience the benefits of Kanban because it’s built upon the premise of cross-functional teams. The concept involves directing your personnel and contingent workforce striving toward a common goal. This enables the entirety to perform at higher levels and produce better results. Switch to a cross-functional business model before implementing Kanban.
5. To Take the Place of Lean Principles
The term “lean” manufacturing refers to the systematic elimination of waste within your facility. Wasteful processes can be the result of overburdening your team, creating uneven workflow or other factors. The goal is to incorporate processes that boost value to the end user or consumer, encouraging them to pay more for the feature. Attempting to apply Kanban concepts instead of strict adherence to lean manufacturing philosophies won’t work. Lean must come before Kanban for either methodology to be successful.
6. To Simplify Processes
If you think that incorporating Kanban in your manufacturing facility is a wise move due to its simplicity, you’re setting yourself up for failure. The Kanban board you’ve posted on the wall for your entire team to see may look straightforward, but there must be efficient processes behind the project status lists. This is why it’s essential to apply lean manufacturing principles first to eliminate waste.
Kanban can lead to higher efficiency and productivity, but it’s important to have realistic expectations about the reasons you want to apply it in your manufacturing facility. Even the best-laid plans won’t help you achieve your business objectives if you don’t focus on why you’re making the move to Kanban. Identify your reasons and goals before taking the leap.