Rapid Increases in Volume

Establishing pull systems using Kanban as the core underlying methodology, has been critical to the movement toward lean manufacturing processes during the past few decades.

Historically, Kanban has been used as a manual card-based system. Paper-based Kanban was revolutionary when it was introduced and worked well when manufacturing was vertically integrated and suppliers were located within a short radius.

A factor currently challenging traditional Kanban systems is the sheer volume of parts and materials that such a system must process. Instead of dealing with hundreds of parts on the shop floor (which was previously the case), manufacturers now have to deal with tens of thousands of parts on a regular basis.



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 Electronic Kanban (eKanban) software

CSP_r11_c5Challenges of Paper Kanban

Today’s global, 24/7, fast-paced manufacturing environment, with suppliers and customers located on every continent, has rendered the manual Kanban card system obsolete. Demonstrating agility in this new environment is central to achieving success in the rapidly evolving supply chain.

The challenges presented by these significant increases in volume are significant and include:

  • Identifying the parts and materials that are suitable for Kanban
  • Correctly determining the sizing parameters for a Kanban system
  • Mapping existing on-hand and on-order inventory to an initial Kanban loop size
  • Bulk resizing a Kanban based on demand, lead time, or lot-size changes

In order to be successful, it is imperative to engage customers and suppliers actively by providing access, visibility and transparency to data and metrics central to supply-chain processes. Paper-based Kanban processes do not offer such reports or analytics. Kanban leaders have been using spreadsheets to make initial calculations and ongoing changes, a process that will not scale when dealing with tens of thousands of parts and hundreds (even thousands) of suppliers.


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Lean Supply Chain

Featuring Electronic Kanban and the Collaborative Supply Portal.



Ultriva's eKanban

As companies moved to distributed manufacturing with operations and suppliers spread across the globe, Kanban processes were forced to expand applications beyond the four walls of a single plant or location. Ultriva’s eKanban technology turns a manual card system into a powerful closed-loop Kanban system, delivering supplier collaboration, visibility into real-time order flows, as well as shipment and receipt information. Ultriva maintains the visual nature of Kanban while guaranteeing no lost or duplicate cards.

Ultriva’s eKanban is workflow-controlled to keep track of who did what, when, and where across the supply chain. This approach allows several metrics to be automatically computed, facilitating continuous improvement synchronized with specific lean manufacturing goals.

Ultriva’s eKanban solution ensures manufacturing supervisors and planners that material is available for production and replenished based on consumption. Other benefits include:

  • Fast migration from manual signaling to electronic signaling
  • Integration of Kanban signals to sales orders and outbound shipments
  • Effective tie-in of Kanban signals to the purchasing and receiving process
  • Use of a collaborative platform allowing customers, distribution centers, manufacturing locations and suppliers to view and act on real-time data
  • Maintenance of visual Kanban across continents




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Manual vs. eKanban,
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