Definition of kanban in US English:



  • 1A Japanese manufacturing system in which the supply of components is regulated through the use of an instruction card sent along the production line.

    • ‘In short, this is automated ‘pull’ capabilities leading toward real-time vendor managed inventory and kanban processing.’
    • ‘In the electronic kanban system Mathis decided to move to, the inventory database would go online.’
    • ‘This helps in implementing kanban internally and helps supply chain partners see the consumption of inventory, shipments, and on-order inventory against actual production.’
    • ‘Eiji and Ohno came up with the kanban system of labeling, an early precursor to bar codes, to keep the flow of parts smooth.’
    • ‘Buyers must know that their suppliers can hit delivery windows in this age of just-in-time and kanban manufacturing, and rely on them to maintain quality and manufacturing capacity.’
    1. 1.1 An instruction card used in a kanban system.
      • ‘When a stock of components or raw materials reaches a certain level of depletion - when a kanban is emptied - a signal is passed back down the manufacturing flow to build or order more parts.’
      • ‘Furthermore, there is no room in the plant to stockpile bodies (or completed cars for that matter), just a marked off area in front of the loading dock that acts as a kanban; it holds only enough bodies to fill the next trailer.’
      • ‘When the kanbans are full, the preceding operation stops producing until a kanban space is once again available.’
      • ‘Kanbans also work where components are the same or similar and can be replenished by kanbans.’
      • ‘Engineers are particularly likely to latch on to tools like kanban, heijunka, and jidoka, and think they have captured the essence of TPS.’
      • ‘The inventory database would become more important, since the data printed on the kanban cards was being reduced to a bar-code label.’
      • ‘Continue to allocate kanbans to the highest valued cell using the same conventions as above.’
      • ‘Participants will learn how to develop and deploy kanbans for real-time shop floor production scheduling and inventory management.’


1970s: Japanese, literally ‘billboard, sign’.