Lean – Container Size

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    What is the thought process behind determining an ideal container size?  Thanks!!


    John Smith

    I  really  don’t  know.Please  give  more  details?



    Your demand, your lead time, your supplier lead time and go on ….


    Wayne A. Marhelski

    An ideal container size depends on your process and some of the various factors present. Ask yourself the following questions:
    1) How much space can I dedicate to these specific parts?
    2) What is the consumption rate of these parts? (“x” per day/hour/etc.)
    3) What is the best way to have these parts presented to the operator when they are required in the process?
    If what you were really looking is the calculation for the # of Kanbans (I’m not going to say cards, because it doesn’t necessarily have to be a card) in a system, then here is the formula:
    (Daily Demand x (Run Frequency + Lead Time + Safety Time)) / Container CapacityWhere: Daily Demand = Customer Consumption expressed as # of unitsRun Frequency = Frequency which you decide to set-up and produce that item. This is expressed as a unit of time. For a five day work week, running the product every day would equal (1), every third day would equal (3), etc.Lead Time = Manufacturing lead time (processing time + Set-up time + queue time) + lead time for kanban retrieval expressed as a unit of time.Safety Time = Allowance for variations in demand and supply, also expressed as a unit of time. Keep as low as possible.Container Capacity = Number of units per container (# of units in a container is always the same number).There are some assumptions you’ll need to make regarding the above variables such as “Safety Time” and “Kanban Retrieval”. If Kanban Retrieval is measured in single-digit minutes then you can probably ignore it altogether, but if it is measured in a days, then you’ll definitely want to include it in the calculation.



    When looking at various calculations within the lean framework, container size is often included as a factor, but I have not come across any guidance as to what is to be considered in terms of an optimal size.
    In my case, the material handling system I am looking at distributes lumber in various lengths via line racks, all filled with various amounts and various SKU (app. 130) which are then delivered to the line for processing.  The question of how does one calculate or simply decide what is the desired container size and quantity is what I am pondering.  Thanks to everyone for their input!


    Dr. Russ (Reza) Pirasteh, MBA, itlsE, PMP, CMBB, CLM

     Things to remember:

    •         Setting up a kanban system requires determining the number of kanbans cards (or containers) needed
    •         Each container represents the minimum production lot size
    •         An accurate estimate of the lead time required to produce a container is key to determining how many kanbans are required
    K= Expected demand during lead time + Safety Stock / Size of the container
    = DL(1+S)/C
    From hear you can determine Kanban cards or work it in the equation to get container size.

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