Pull System — Kanban
Written by Steve Hudgik
A “pull” system is a Kanban scheduling system that signals what to produce, and which only produces the items customers need. Production is triggered by demand. The lean manufacturing technique known as kanban is a pull system.
The other type of production system is a “push” system. A push system uses forecasts to predict what demand will be. The products are manufactured before there is a demand and then pushed into the market.
A pull system controls the production of products, and the flow of resources used to make those products, by replacing only what has been consumed. A system of signals is used to indicate when additional production is needed.
A pull system is customer driven. The quantity of the products produced is based on actual demand, not on forecasting.
Advantages Of A Pull System
- A pull system reduces inventory and product obsolescence
- You get improved communication of customer needs
- A pull system quickly highlights quality problems
- Pull systems result in lower unit costs
- They make continuous improvement possible (proving a competitive advantage)
- Using a pull system avoids over production problems
Pull System Signals
The signals used to initiate additional production, or the purchasing of additional resources, are critical. These signals are called kanbans. Nearly anything can be used as a pull system signal. Kanban cards were originally the most common type of signal. For example, there would be a kanban card attached to a pallet of product. When the pallet shipped, the card was sent back to the production department signaling that an additional pallet of product needed to be manufactured. In some cases the empty pallet might be returned to the production department and serve as the signal that more product is needed.
Pull System Visual Signals
A pull system typically functions based on visual signals. Some of those signals are labels and tags made using a DuraLabel printer. In the example above, that uses a pallet as the signal to produce more product, in real life there will be many pallets holding many different products. DuraLabel high-tack labels, which adhere to wood such as pallets, are used to identify the product associated with the pallet.
In other cases tags made with DuraLabel Tough Tested DuraTag tag stock are used to signal the need to order additional raw materials. Tags made with DuraTag tag stock are so tough that they don't even need grommets. Just punch a hole in them and tie them on. That's durability that gets the job done.
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