How Two Bin Kanban Systems are Improving Business Processes
Kanban is a lean manufacturing system of which the two-bin system is the most popular. A two-bin Kanban system aids in lean manufacturing practices to reduce costs and waste in a number of settings, including hospitals, factories, and warehouses.
How It Works
The system works simply by supplying two plastic bins to workers which contain inventory that they pull from to fill orders or to provide supplies to various departments. The speed at which the individual items are used will determine how many of the items are placed in the bins. The workers pull from one bin until empty and then switch to the second bin at the same time placing an order to replenish the items in the first bin. The amount of items required to replenish the first bin is predetermined so that there is little chance of running low on stock, which can impact production.
The two bin Kanban system seems simple at first glance but there are multiple details that must be considered to make it effective. Some of these details include:
The time it takes to reach the bottom of a bin must be longer than the time needed to order and have the replacement inventory delivered. Otherwise, the second bin could become empty before the new stock arrives. The goal of the business is to have enough inventory to prevent running out of stock while waiting on replenishments without having too much surplus inventory. The fact that the two bin Kanban system works with small volumes reduces the risk of either situation occurring.
The size of the bin should be equivalent to the items you will have on order to replace it. When the order is received, it should completely fill the bin without providing any excess. This should take into account the lead time of the item and the daily demand for it so you can determine what the appropriate size of the bin system should be.
Few items are in consistent demand day after day. Situations may result in fluctuations in demand while other considerations such as order minimums or shelf life of products may play a role in developing the ideal ordering system for your needs.
The Surprising Benefits of a Two Bin Kanban System in Healthcare
The primary reason that a two bin Kanban system is effective in healthcare settings is that is brings order and reason to the ordering process. When the ordering is left to employees who must make an on-the-fly assessment of their inventory and order accordingly, the end result is likely to be too much of some items and not enough of those that are used the most.
A Kanban system allows employees to use items from the first bin until it runs out. Often, the employee taking the last item from the bin will place the empty container in a common area where the need to order will be recognized. The person who places orders will scan the card(s) on the bin and the order placed on the same day. While waiting for the new order of supplies to arrive, the employees will use the products in the second bin. The system prevents items that are needed regularly from running out and there is less danger of those with an expiration date of going to waste.
The Challenges of Setting up a Two Bin Kanban System
It takes work to set up an effective two bin Kanban system, no matter what type of business it will be used for or the diversity of supplies or products that it will be used to organize. In most cases, items will come from a variety of vendors or distributors that have different lead times. Different items may be limited to minimum order quantities that will need to be taken into consideration when deciding what goes into each bin.
Each business must develop their own unique formula for deciding on the number of items that will go into each bin according to their frequency of use and the time it takes to replace them from order to delivery. A good way to get started is to use the two bin Kanban system for non-essential items first to learn how to make adjustments that will help you keep the right number of products in inventory without letting items that are not frequently used take up your storage space. Once perfected, you will be ready to implement a two bin system into the entire business that will save you time and money.