4. ESTABLISHING A PULL SYSTEM
You are here in your Lean journey:
You wouldn’t cook enough food for 30 people if you are having a dinner party for only 6, would you?
You wouldn’t buy a baby stroller unless you had a baby on the way or already had a baby at your house, right?
Just as you wouldn’t invest your time washing and waxing your car if you knew you were taking a super dusty road the next day, correct?
The reason why you wouldn’t do any of those things is because all of that would generate waste – of food, of money, of space and of time.
And since you’ve been down this Lean road for quite a bit now, you know that we don’t want any of that. That’s why in Lean we seek to establish Pull Systems.
PULL SYSTEM: a system in which work is done if and when there’s an actual demand for it.
WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Based on demand
Supplies current needs
Works with precision
Tends to eliminate waste
Higher level of adaptation
Based on forecasts
Tries to anticipate needs
Works with approximations
Creates space for waste
Lower level of adaptation
JUST IN TIME, NOT “JUST IN CASE”
Just in Time was the Pull System adopted by Toyota when the Toyota Production System (TPS) was created. It is so important to them that, alongside with Jidoka, is one of the pillars of TPS.
As the name suggests, in Just in Time every activity should be done at the right time. And the “right time” here means “when it’s actually needed”.
For example: in Just in Time, a salesperson would never prepare a product demonstration unless they knew for a fact that a possible customer would like to see it. They would wait for this demand to actually exist, and then they would get their hands dirty.
And if you’re guessing that the company behind the creation of Kanban was also Toyota, you are guessing right.
Back in the early 1940s, they needed a way for workers to signalize their steps in the manufacturing process. So they developed a system that was highly visual (in Japanese, Kanban means “visual signal”, by the way) and allowed teams to communicate better on what work still needed to be done.
And guess what: this also helped them reducing waste.
That’s because Kanban can help you control the entire value stream – from beginning to end.
This is how it works:
The activities become cards that will move through columns that represent stages of a process. The number of columns and what they are named will depend on the complexity of their process.
For a simple process, for example, the stages could be TO DO, DOING and DONE.
We are almost done and you are only one step away from completing your beginner’s journey! And now that you’ve come this far, we have to make sure that you keep continuously improving.
BEFORE YOU GO ON, IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT ESTABLISHING PULL SYSTEM
- Pull Systems are a way to help you do only the work that is necessary to deliver value when it’s necessary and in the amount that is necessary
- A Pull System is the opposite of a Push System because the latter tries to forecast the demand, and therefore produces more waste and is less flexible
- Bottlenecks will slow down your process and kill your productivity. So make sure you identify them quickly and destroy them as soon as they appear
- Just in Time is the most important Pull System. It’s about knowing what work needs to be done when and in what amount
- Kanban is the best way to understand your process flow in a visual way and to identify bottlenecks quicker