Durham, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/11/2006 -- Kanban, in its most simplifying role, is a visual signal (or cue) that something needs to be replenished. More specifically, lean manufacturers today use digital kanban by Datacraft Solutions (www.datacraftsolutions.com) to drive a process to make, move, or buy the appropriate parts. Thus, digital kanban becomes one of the fundamental building blocks of a pull (or consumption based) replenishment system.
Manufacturing journalist Thomas R. Cutler profile Digital Kanban in Manufacturing.net at http://manufacturing.net/article/CA6359641.html.
Luvata Buffalo Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., a brass and copper sheet mill operation, has a wide customer base that services varied market segments including the appliance industry, telecommunications, ordinance, connectors, and rolled products.
Their sister plant in Kentucky, called Luvata Franklin, uses copper strip from the Buffalo facility to make copper tubing for the air conditioning industry. In late 2005, the Luvata Corporate Group issued a directive for all production facilities to collaborate and reduce total working capital across all facilities. The objective for Luvata Franklin and Buffalo was to reduce the total inventory held by both plants.
According to Jeffrey Ball, Luvata's value engineering and information services manager, “This presented a unique challenge for both plants. The two plants had separate planning, inventory and scheduling systems, and in order to ensure that the weld lines at Franklin never ran out of raw material, there was always a large amount of inventory 'in the pipeline.'
"In order to prevent stock outs of a specific part number, a great deal of time was required by both the Buffalo and Franklin scheduling teams to avert disaster. It seemed as though, whichever parts were made, they were not the parts that were needed today at Franklin. Expediting of individual part numbers was the norm.”
What Luvata needed was a system that could integrate both the Buffalo and Franklin shop floor control systems and provide a visual, easy-to-understand, and real-time representation of the total supply chain.
The Buffalo and Franklin scheduling groups formed a team to address the need to reduce the amount of working capital tied up in the supply chain and improve the reliability of deliveries.
“There was plenty of candid conversation within the team that moved the two plants from a win/lose mentality, to a group focused on developing a win/win result,” Ball said.
The Franklin plant found a solution in a new tool called digital kanban (also known as eKanban) from Datacraft Solutions, Durham, N.C., a demand-driven supply chain technology provider. Based upon the initial success of the digital kanban system at Franklin, the Buffalo facility installed the same system in their plant. Now both plants have a common supply chain management system that was easily, quickly, and affordably implemented.
The Buffalo/Franklin team worked closely with Datacraft to define the project costs, benefits and time schedules. The primary objectives of reduced working capital (25 percent inventory reduction), improved delivery reliability (avoid stockouts), easy-to-use scheduling modules, and quick implementation time fell well within Luvata's budget and timeframe.
Datacraft Solutions specializes in providing their clients with the tools they need to rapidly replace outdated manual systems with technology that speeds process flow and improves accuracy. Datacraft’s premier product, Signum has been developed around the Kanban concept of replenishment, and provides an invaluable tool for manufacturing companies to monitor process flow, lower administrative transaction costs, and improve decision-making ability.