What is a Kanban Card?

Definition: Kanban is the Japanese word that means billboard. Kanban cards are scheduling devises that authorize a production line to produce more units.

What Does Kanban Card Mean?

Kanban cards and other production flow indicators are typically used in lean business models and just in time manufacturing where raw materials are received and immediately placed into production. The Kanban card helps the manufacturing flow and other departments communicate what needs to be produced and what materials are needed for the production process.


The Kanban card is quite simple. It is usually a piece of paper or note card with product specifications, production numbers, and manufacturing deadlines written on it.

Kanban cards are often placed in parts buckets. When the production team runs out of parts in the bucket, the Kanban card is sent back to the receiving department or inventory department with the next order of parts. The receiving or inventory department deliver the amount of parts listed on the kanban card in a bucket with a new card at the bottom.

This kind of manufacturing process helps the manufacturer order the proper amount of raw materials and keeps the manufacturing flow on time. Essentially, the Kanban card allows the just in time manufacturing system to operate properly and efficiently.