Kanban software for lean manufacturing

Canadian company, RV Haulers, does sales and modification of heavy trucks for recreational vehicle hauling at a massive rate. They are blowing up on the internet with their passion for their work, their promise for quality and their super successful YouTube channel that helps them share their world with a wider audience.

Kanban software for lean manufacturing

Meet Jonathan Nituch, a 3rd party consultant who has been working with RV Haulers for the past 4 months. However, he has known the owner of the company, Gregg Shields, for many years. Jonathan’s role is to consult on management and technology issues.

Tell us a bit more about RV Haulers and your history. How long has the company been around? How long have you been part of the team? What is your role?

RV Haulers have been in business for about 5 years. I joined about 4 months ago as a third party consultant to make sure everything is on track with the management and technology parts of the company process. We are currently at the beginning of our lean journey.

What kinds of processes are you tracking using Kanbanize?

The processes we are tracking in our business are:

· Creating custom quotes for the truck builds

· Locating/purchasing used trucks to modify

· Customizing the truck

· Communicating with the owner during the build

· Delivering the truck to the owner

What were the problems you were facing? How were you trying to solve them before Kanbanize?

RV Haulers has been growing strong and is continuing to expand market opportunities. However, the operations was not keeping pace with the current or potential growth. When I started talking to Gregg about this growth, it became clear to me that he was involved in many different activities (sales, marketing, operations, design, delivery, etc.) There was no clear flow for these activities. There was also no measurement of any performance. All communication within the team was ad hoc.

How did you decide to search for a Kanban software?

When I first started talking to the owner, Gregg, about the business, he talked a lot about queues and work waiting to be done. These were clues to me that a lean approach mapped on a Kanban board would be a good one.

What were you planning to use it for? Why did you choose Kanbanize?

I started looking for Kanban tools and selected Kanbanize because it has a lean focus (some competitors were more focused on agile software development). We planned to use Kanbanize for any process that needed to be visualized. We excluded any processes where we already had a tool in place, like CRM or accounting. The main use so far is in tracking the build process of our RV Hauler trucks, which are the company’s main product.

Was introducing Kanbanize to the team a difficult task or did they adopt it rather quickly?

In December, we had a three-day Kaizen event to launch the use of Kanbanize as well as the standard work for the truck customization and build processes. We manage this on two boards using the parent-child functionality. We purchased a large monitor for our shop to visualize our work and share it within the team during daily meetings. This works optimally for us and we recommend the same approach for other teams integrating Kanbanize.

What results were achieved by using Kanbanize? What changed for the better/worse in your team?

The team is now better organized. We can see how our work is progressing and what we have to work on. Kanbanize is automatically collecting a lot of data and performance metrics for us so we can get a sense of how fast we’re moving forward and where we could tweak a few things.

Can you provide any metrics the fluctuation of which might have been triggered by the addition of Kanbanize to your work process?

The Kanbanize analytics give us access to data that we never had before. We are just starting to form trends in our data, but we can see how long each step in our process takes and how much WIP is at each step. We never had that before at all! This is critical information for us to develop a value stream map and plan our future kaizen activities.

How have you structured your process on the Kanbanize boards?

Kanban lean manufacturing board

We have two main boards at this time. The first tracks the overall progress of each truck build. The columns are:

Requested in which we initially receive an order and describe its specifics.

Conversion Kickoff is the column in which we find a truck and collect supplies.

Truck Conversion prepares the requested truck for further enhancements down the line.

Post-Conversion Activities is the post-development stage in which the truck modifications get tested and prepped.

Customization Kickoff is the column in which we collect supplies and plan the customization.

RV Hauler Customization adds on the hauler attributes to the already modified truck.

Post-Customization Activities are anything from invoices to the customer, to testing etc.

Final Outfitting are the finishing touches before sending it on to the customer.

Done. A truck is considered done when it has been delivered to the customer.

We also have a second board that tracks all of the detail activities on child cards. It has fewer columns, but many more cards: On Deck, Ready to Start, In Progress, Testing, Completed, and Not Required.

What do you hope Kanbanize can help you do in the future?

We want to use Kanbanize to identify areas of waste in our processes and measure the result of our efforts to eliminate that waste and become as efficient as we can.

Share a trick you like to use when working with Kanbanize.

One trick that we learned early on was the ability to select multiple cards. In the first few days of populating Kanbanize, the backlog for our project activities board grew into the hundreds of cards. We used a parent-child configuration to relate each card to the correct parent project. When we saw the backlog getting so large, we immediately made it a policy to keep cards for the same project next to one another in the backlog (and also other columns). Selecting multiple cards at once made this cleanup easier to perform and maintain.

Would you recommend Kanbanize to other professionals in your field? To colleagues from other fields?

Kanban and Kanbanize are general business tools that can be used in any industry or field. Any time you want to visualize what your team is doing, Kanbanize is a tool that you should consider.

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