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A continuing lean journey: an electronic manufacturer's adopting of Kanban

Andrew Lee‐Mortimer (Lee Business Communications Ltd, Manchester, UK)

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 18 April 2008

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the introduction of Kanban production control, at a UK‐based electronic product‐manufacturing operation.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper covers key implementation issues, including cultural factors, the reasons behind the adoption of an electronic Kanban system, and explains in detail the working and benefits gained from the changes introduced.

Findings

Learning lessons from its previous lean implementation experiences, the company's adoption of Kanban was phased, and the final stage of gradually building up the parts under the control of the electronic Kanban was combined with broad involvement, widespread training and the addressing of cultural issues. This “pull” system has delivered the expected dramatic reductions in lead times and inventory but, having used Kanban to gain increased internal stability, the company is now planning to extend the system externally. Interestingly, to make this work, it will require the replacement of Kanban control in some internal areas of the plant with push control in the form of direct replenishment.

Originality/value

The paper clearly shows how effective the progressive introduction of aspects of lean can be in terms of delivering long‐term business benefits. It also confirms the importance of recognizing that even well organized businesses are liable to suffer pain when implementing lean. It is critically important not to blame the new system, but to find the real causes, and this requires understanding and training. Finally, in addition to explaining how the plant's new system operates, and observing some of the finer details of the electronic Kanban system, the paper looks at the interesting planned steps in the system's “evolution”.

Keywords

Citation

Lee‐Mortimer, A. (2008), "A continuing lean journey: an electronic manufacturer's adopting of Kanban", Assembly Automation, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 103-112. https://doi.org/10.1108/01445150810863662

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited