Far Beyond Kanban

3 minute read

Upland Admin

Kanban is at the core of many solutions, including Ultriva.  That tells only a small part of the story which is about solutions that enhance the process and automates them across the value chain.  Beyond kanban is an execution platform which sets up the pull process from the point of consumption to point of production.  It means scheduling the production based on actual demand, real orders or pull signals.

Ultimately lean technology solutions must optimize the production sequencing at the cells, based on customer want date, instead of just capacity and automating material flow within a plant (from the assembly lines to upstream work centers, supermarkets, and raw material warehouses.)

Loops not MRP
The result is a unique architecture that treats material flow as a series of interconnected loops instead of the MRP architecture of linear process.  MRP starts with the finished goods planned demand and then extracts the bill of materials and sends schedules both to the plants and its suppliers.  Any change in demand causes supplier to react which has an impact on the upstream value chain.

Loops are independent, yet interconnected with each other.  One loop is between the supplier and warehouse.  This may have a long lead time and lot size can be in pallets.  The next loop could be between the warehouse and supermarket locations in the plant.  The lead time could be one day and lot size could be boxes.  The next loop may be between supermarket and assembly lines.  The lead time could be hours and the lot size could be in small bin quantity.

Advantages of Loop Architecture
This loop architecture ensure that only actual consumption will trigger replenishment upstream and that the customer can implement lean at the most constrained loop first, instead of the whole plant.  Each loop can be independently sizes based on consumption, lead time, safety stock, and lot size.  Only this architecture makes it possible for users to gain visibility to whom did what, where, and when.  A single scan can perform the consumption, issue, and receipt transactions.

Commercial Vehicle Group using technology
Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG), one of the world’s top suppliers of cabs and cab-related parts for the commercial trucking industry, needed to automate its implementation a demand driven method of inventory replenishment, because the company’s manual approach to the method was complex, time-consuming, and error-prone.  CVG implemented Ultriva nearly eight years ago, yet within just a few months of deployment at two of its plants, CVG saw turns increased, inventory reduced, and associates at all levels, within CVG and suppliers, better collaborating and communicating toward company objectives of total quality production, lean manufacturing, and elimination of waste.

CVG needed a closed-loop solution that would support a continuous-flow process, a solution that suppliers could access easily.   The benefits of the solution faster turns and reduced inventory thanks to a vastly more automated process and better visibility of inventory; a system that empowers employees at all levels; comprehensive tracking and analysis of supplier performance; and closer involvement of suppliers in the process.

Faster Turns, Reduced Inventory
The first job at CVG was to automate the scanning of parts coming in and to provide comprehensive real-time visibility of inventory to everyone involved.  By scanning products on the dock that used to be keyed in manually, parts are accepted and stocked more quickly.  The process is far less prone to errors than the manual approach used before.  Because the solution seamlessly integrated with the company’s existing ERP system, CVG was able provide any authorized user with an accurate and comprehensive real-time view of parts and inventory.

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