In Lean production, it is commonly understood to use pull production instead of push production, which is implemented with a Kanban system. But what makes the pull production system the way to go? Why not use a push production system? For most, the answers are about as clear as muddy water.
A pull production system simply limits the amount of work in a process which can be in the system. Work methods that use pull systems allow people to manage the flow of resources by limiting work in progress and allowing those doing the work to focus. They are driven from a high level that strictly focuses on capacity and material based on actual customer demand. Pull production design is perfectly balanced due to the demand placed on the organization. They are designed to be agile, with the ability to quickly respond to any changes in customer demand. It is often referred to as a ‘Kanban’ system, which is a method for planning, executing and replenishing inventory that allows for greater control.
Push production revolves around extensive planning and forecasting. It does not have limits on the amount of work that can be in the system. The common assumption in a push production system is that everything remains constant. Everything that is required for capacity is on hand, which includes inventory and support staff. Even though it seems agile and proactive, in reality it is not. Often, pull production becomes obsolete before being executed because of the every changing market environment and customer demand. It is slow to adjust to these variations in a manufacturing environment.
While push production is heavily front loaded with planning and forecasting, pull production is agile and customer demand focused. It remains flexible enough to meet ever changing market adjustments and customer demands.