3 Major Industries Where the Kanban Method Can be Used


In recent years, the application of Kanban in various industries has been receiving significant attention worldwide and the application of the method ranges from small companies even to large organizations in diverse fields. In this article, you will discover some industries where the Kanban method can be used. Before we show you some interesting practical cases, let’s get a quick recap of the Kanban method and its general benefits.

The term Kanban has a Japanese root meaning “signs” or “sign board”. Originally designed as a Lean Manufacturing tool, it consists of a method for production scheduling based on a signaling board which allows and instructs the manufacture or removal of production items in a pulled system.

In a more general view, which can also be extended to other areas of knowledge, the main functions of the Kanban method within a process are to allow visual control for the execution of activities with accuracy and efficiency.

Due to its simplicity and relatively easy concepts, the Kanban method has gained significant attention and increased applications over the last years.

However, in order to get full benefits from its application in daily activities, it is essential to systematically implement all its fundamental and practical concepts.

General Benefits of the Kanban Method

The Kanban method is extremely useful not only in the industrial environment where it is and has been used widely, but also in diverse sectors such as service and administrative areas. Additionally, the method also finds application in many other fields of knowledge as for example, business management and project management, etc.

One of the greatest advantages that the Kanban method offers relies on its possible adaptation to both small and large organizations in which daily teamwork is a must and where there is a need for agile processes and better process control.

Different Industries Using Kanban

Next, we take a brief look at different types of industries where the Kanban method can be used and the main benefits that the method brings in these sectors.

1. Manufacturing

Kanban has its origins in Japan and was firstly established through the Toyota factory back in the 1940s. Since then, the Kanban method has been extensively used in diverse industries and manufacturing facilities worldwide. This has helped industries to improve production and, at the same time, to increase their customers’ satisfaction. Nonetheless, for the efficient implementation of the Kanban method in industry, important aspects should be followed, as for example, implementation of quick tool exchange systems, maintenance, repetitive batches and a system of quality that permits a leveled and synchronized production with stable demands.

When the Kanban method is applied correctly in industries and manufacturing facilities, it allows huge benefits summarized as follows:

  • Reduction of waste by decreasing stock inventories and getting rid of excessive production;
  • Production-related priorities are known to all employees;
  • Improvement of process efficiency, without the need to wait for new operating instructions;
  • Work based on current process operating conditions;
  • Promotes continuous process improvements.

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2. IT and Software Development

Kanban method has also been used extensively in IT and software development companies. The method allows these organizations during the strategic planning of software development and in the initial stages of new product projects. This can be achieved due to the inherent flexibility that the Kanban method offers in this niche of work as well as its focus on firstly completing the important tasks in a project. Therefore, it is possible to allow suitable software release at predefined schedules, while still working on minor tasks when needed.

The use of the Kanban method in both IT and software development companies can bring many benefits as briefly shown below:

  • Optimized understanding of the workflow by the team through its inherent visual characteristic features;
  • High delivery throughput based on its pulled system behaviour, that is, focus on finishing tasks before starting new ones;
  • Fast identification of project tasks which are not relevant;
  • Suitable establishment of work in progress (WIP) tasks, thus leading to less stress on working team;
  • Easy reassessment of project tasks and software features as required by the arranged orders;
  • Possibility to promote continuous process improvements.

3. Healthcare

In the health sector, the Kanban method finds numerous applications, for example, to help optimize the managing process of patients by identifying available vacancies in hospitals as well as the entry and exit status of patients. By using an appropriate Kanban method, it is possible to identify and visually signal the time a patient is receiving medical care in a hospital.

Another possible utilization of the Kanban method in hospitals is related to the right definition of the appropriate inventory level of medical instruments. This aims at maintaining the inventory level of medical instruments as low as possible, and still assuring the customers´ demand, in order to avoid waste resources in the process.

Among the benefits of applying Kanban in the healthcare industry, one of them consists of sharing important patients’ information on Kanban boards as well as improving the occupancy management. Thus, it is possible to inform medical staff how long a specific patient has been hospitalized and get advanced information regarding the patient’s actual condition. By identifying the patient’s condition, the medical team can assertively investigate the causes and provide further actions.

Empower Your Business with the Kanban Method

Apart from the three major industries enumerated, more and more businesses from other industries are discovering the benefits of using the Kanban method. Businesses in publication, filmmaking, arts, music, farming, ecommerce, and food industries, among others, are also becoming more efficient and organized with help from project management tools like Kanban. If you want to know how the Kanban method can help streamline your business operations and boost your team’s productivity, talk to us here at Kanban Zone. As part of the features and benefits that we offer upon signing up for Kanban Zone, we also provide professional Kanban coaching and and training services to help prepare and transition your whole organization to a better business tool that is designed to help you continuously improve.

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About the Author: Adriano Boaron

Adriano Boaron, Author at Kanban Zone
Adriano Boaron is a research and development (R&D) scientific engineer with focus on manufacturing processes and a passion for research and content writing in this field. Over the last 12 years, he has planned, developed and coordinated applied scientific R&D projects both in industry and at research institutes in the field of machining processes, namely, in the grinding process and process monitoring. During this period, he had the opportunity to get hands-on experience with Project Management and Agile tools like Kanban method which he uses often in his professional projects and writes content as freelance professional. In his free time, he enjoys birdwatching and loves playing drums.