Definition of kanban in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkänbän/


(also kanban system)
1A Japanese manufacturing system in which the supply of components is regulated through the use of a card displaying a sequence of specifications and instructions, sent along the production line.
Example sentences
  • In the electronic kanban system Mathis decided to move to, the inventory database would go online.
  • Eiji and Ohno came up with the kanban system of labeling, an early precursor to bar codes, to keep the flow of parts smooth.
  • Buyers must know that their suppliers can hit delivery windows in this age of just-in-time and kanban manufacturing, and rely on them to maintain quality and manufacturing capacity.
1.1An instruction card used in a kanban system.
Example sentences
  • The inventory database would become more important, since the data printed on the kanban cards was being reduced to a bar-code label.
  • Furthermore, there is no room in the plant to stockpile bodies (or completed cars for that matter), just a marked off area in front of the loading dock that acts as a kanban; it holds only enough bodies to fill the next trailer.
  • When a stock of components or raw materials reaches a certain level of depletion - when a kanban is emptied - a signal is passed back down the manufacturing flow to build or order more parts.


Late 20th century: Japanese, literally 'billboard, sign'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: kan·ban

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