e-Kanban with RFID

The Kanban-Method of securing adequate supply of materials while at the same time minimizing stock in manufacturing operations has been successfully introduced in many large manufacturing companies both in the automobile industry and in other industries. In most cases, the classical paper cards are used which are inserted into Kanban Boards or into Kanban Boxes similar to letter boxes. Only a few companies so far have discovered the advantages of e-Kanban - the direct coupling of the "analog" Kanban Cards with the company's IT infrastructure. Such a coupling has its advantages, though: using e-Kanban, the information on where there is a need for supplies is electronically transferred to the warehouse. The Kanban Cards do not have to be collected before the warehouse knows where there is a need for supplies in the manufacturing process. This allows a faster replenishment of manufacturing supplies and ordering can be coupled even closer to consumption of materials which allows further reduction is stock.

An elegant way of capturing Kanban Card data is the use of RFID technology. In such a scenario, the Kanban Cards are tagged using an RFID tag / label. This can also be done with existing Kanban Cards. The card collection point is now a special e-Kanban Box that is equipped with an RFID reader. The reader is connected to the company's IT infrastructure via Ethernet.

Whenever a card is thrown into the box, the warehouse is informed that there is a need for a specific material at the according manufacturing location. Since this information arrived electronically, a simple click in the warehouse allows confirming delivery and lowering the according warehouse stock appropriately. This removes several manual data entries and the associated potential for human errors as well as saving time.