What Are the Benefits of Kitting in Lean Manufacturing?

What is kitting in terms of a manufacturing or assembly environment? Few places offer a formal definition, but most sources will agree that it is a combination of multiple unique part numbers packaged in a separate container and presented to the assembly or manufacturing line. The differentiation from an assembly is that most of the fastening or value-add activity remains to be completed on the assembly line after delivery of the kit.

Here is an example of a value-stream map for material that is kitted:



Some of the benefits of kitting include:

  • Reduced inventory levels
  • Operator effectiveness (decreased periodic work and non-value add activities)
    • Decreased unpacking, walking, searching
    • Reduced overall deliveries to the line
    • Less space required on the line for material storage
    • Quality and part shortage issues caught farther upstream

Now that we know the benefits, how do we know which situations are appropriate for kitting? In my experience, choosing a material flow method boils down to a decision tree as follows:

Kitting 2

The reason we see 2-bin Kanban occur as the first option on the decision-tree is that each of the other material flow options introduce secondary labor as well as more complicated processes which have the potential of introducing waste into your replenishment system. Assuming you follow the decision tree to the kitting solution, it should be known the potential difficulties of implementing kits:

  • MRP/ERP replenishment systems often do not accommodate kits without assembly part numbers
  • A defect of one component in the kit usually requires scrapping the entire kit
  • Secondary labor is required to build the kits
  • Additional containers are usually required

If these difficulties can be overcome, kitting can be an extremely effective solution to take control of operator efficiency, line-side storage, and other problems often associated with the flow of materials to the line. In my most recent kaizen, we were able to reduce operator cycle time by 30% and line-side inventory by 60%.

Written by Kelcy Monday, Team Lead - Supply Chain Engineering at LeanCor

Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

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LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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