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Kanban is a tool and scheduling system for managing interdependent manufacturing processes. Invented by the Toyota Motor Corporation, it helps production managers confirm they have the right “inputs” (materials, information, human resources, etc.) at the right time, and provides the information they need to manage production from start to finish.

Kanban is important because it:

  1. Prevents overproduction
  2. Helps connect production processes
  3. Helps users track whether production is ahead of or behind schedule
  4. Contributes to the continuous improvement of inventory management

There are two main types of Kanban:

  1. Production Kanban provides information about production processes
  2. Parts withdrawal Kanban provides information about inventory and supply chain management

Kanban can be electronic or paper-based. Its name in Japanese means “sign” or “signboard.”