Pull Systems


Pull and visual scheduling systems help organizations to increase the velocity of work flow, reduce inventory, improve visibility of operational status and synchronize the processes within a value stream. This course illustrates and explains how and why pull systems work. Key topics include pull/MRP integration, practical procedures for designing pull systems and operational practices to support production control, visual scheduling and internal logistics systems.

This workshop is typically two days long, but we recommend adding a three-day follow on component where participants implement a pull system in one of your working processes. We use several hands-on simulations design exercises and case studies to illustrate how pull systems work and to explain how to provide day-to-day support to pull systems.

Objectives & Outcomes

  • Describe the fundamental mechanics of pull systems, including blocking, dispatching, feeder-line synchronization, route-specific versus part-specific structures, pull and scheduling and pacemaker concepts.
  • Develop and operate various types of basic pull systems, including one-card and two card systems, supplier kanban systems, supporting logistics systems and electronic-kanban systems.
  • Describe fundamental operational principles of CONWIP (CONstant Work In Process), its utility in high work-content-variability applications, and design principles for structuring CONWIP systems for manufacturing and service applications.
  • Design a CONWIP system for a real world manufacturing facility.
  • Configure a complex pull system, implement and operate that system.
  • Describe leveling criteria and procedures
  • Integrate pull with scheduling systems
  • Set buffer sizes
  • Describe logistics approaches, including kitting and staging strategies, that support effective operation of pull systems
  • Develop visual scheduling to support dispatching, sequencing and status response decisions.

Target Audience

We have designed this workshop for a variety of audiences. The basic 2-day workshop is for leaders and managers designing and implementing lean systems in the organization. An abbreviated version of this course is available for front line personnel. An even more comprehensive course is also available for special teams charged with designing and implementing pull and visual scheduling systems in your organization.


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