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Does The Pull System Make Sense?

Every manufacturing plant is looking for ways to improve their system. Some plants are able to find improvements in the way that they are creating products and this reduces a lot of waste and overburden. Other plants focus their efforts on streamlining their process so they can rely more on their equipment and less on staff members. Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma are two of the common methodologies that are used in order to improve products and to eliminate waste. Of the systems there are various tools that have been created, some more effective than others. When you are looking at all of the different systems you have to really consider what your organization will be able to grasp a hold of and which tools are not going to go along with the goals and the direction of your company. A tool that works well for some is the pull system or Kanban. Does this system make sense for your company? Let's look at what Kanban is all about so you can make a better decision.

The pull system or Kanban is created as a method of control. You will end up with ways in which you will control the flow of your products through the system and to ensure that you are keeping a stable amount of product for each phase. You will replace the products (raw goods) throughout the process but you only add back what was taken out.

So how do you know how much product to keep? It's all driven by the demands and needs of your customers. They are the ones that will end up taking out product and based on their demand for it, you will increase the raw good orders. You can try and forecast what they want but it is not always effective as their demands are always subject to change. Customer demand and actual consumption is the best ways in which you can keep your raw goods coming in at a consistent amount. What the pull system will do is help you to stay with their demands so you don't have too many orders coming in that end up with a lot of waste.

How much time is calculated for things like turnaround time, what about the work in process as well as the excessive inventory overhead? Do you have cash flow problems along with cycle times that need to be improved? You need to look at ways in which the pull system will be able to focus on these areas in order to improve your customer satisfaction and to leave you with a company that has happier employees because they are dealing with an effective system.

While the pull system may not work in some facilities, it does work well in many others. You can see the elimination of problems such as bottlenecking when you use the pull system. It is also effective in helping you to respond quickly to the customer needs and it gives you a chance to find a way to improve your relationships with vendors as you are ordering frequently.

The pull system can work but it is a component of lean manufacturing. It only works effectively when you also take the time to implement lean manufacturing as it's goal is to help in smoothing out the production line and process. Without the proper implementation of lean your employees may not grasp onto the concept of the pull system and they may end up resisting it, just like they often do when you are having anything that is a change. Management needs to really support lean and you need to focus on showing your staff how the pull system can work and does make sense.

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