Electronic Kanban

By Ron Published on February 3rd, 2007

Here is a question for all the Lean gurus out there. Is “Electronic Kanban” an oxymoron? I have my own opinion but would like to hear yours.

  1. Jon Miller

    February 3, 2007 - 12:18 pm

    One of the chief functions of kanban is to link the information with the gembutsu – actual product – so completely replacing cards with something electronic would defeat this purpose.

    If you can keep pushing a button and ordering more, even if it has not been consumed, this also defeats the purpose of kanban, which is to curb overproduction.

    When you don’t have physical kanban (cards) then you don’t have a limited money supply, so to speak, and you can push more product from bucket to bucket from your ivory tower.

    Electronic Kanban is one of those things people who don’t have the grit to put together a true kanban system tend to gravitate to, in my opinion.

    I haven’t seen electronic kanban done well, except where they just call it “kanban” and make technology conform to the design intent of kanban. Rather than other way around.

    In general the understanding and deployment of kanban is very poor across the Lean world.

  2. Ron Pereira

    February 6, 2007 - 12:53 am

    Thanks Jon. I must admit, I agree 100% with you. My post was driven by the fact some company pitching electronic Kanban continues to call me. I have told them “not interested” more than once and they continue to call. I give them “A” for persistence.

  3. David

    March 24, 2010 - 8:39 am

    Would be nice in terms of engineering and in terms of maintenance to kanban cards, specially when you have tons of them. But yes I’m agree, the bear trap hidden on electronic kanban is the control of the “ordering”; Who is pushing the button? Is this person really qualified to understood the customeer requirements and inventory levels?….I doubt it, since this person normally is in production floor and there isn’t so much visibility of the real stocks.

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