Ending the Home Kanban System (For This Home, At Least)

Drawing down our inventory...

As I lighten my workload a bit during my “Blog Break” in preparation for my family's move to San Antonio, I thought new readers might want to check out my post from 2008 titled “A Home Kanban System – Toilet Paper & Paper Towels.” Do you utilize kanban at home?

Since we're moving, I'm no longer buying a second huge warehouse club pack when we are down to one pack remaining. I'm buying smaller quantities so that there's a reasonable amount of toilet paper in the house for the new owners, but without having tons of inventory. This is the equivalent to what a factory would call an “end of life” situation for a product… in this case, the end of the house's life for us  — on to a new house, where I'll establish a new kanban system that's appropriate to the size of the new place and the proximity to stores. See this comment about how we had modified the system for a small Boston apartment.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. I’ve never understood having two huge packs. I think a max-min system works better than a two-bin. Our “signal” to refill on those items is when we throw away the wrapping for the big package and only have the last back-up–which is still 4 rolls of toilet paper–more than enough to carry you to the next Costco run.

    • I see what you’re saying and it could definitely work that way.

      With work travel and busy schedules, we sometimes delay our Costco run for a few weeks. We have the space in our garage and paper products aren’t that expensive, so I’m erring waaaay on the side of not running out rather than trying to absolutely minimize inventory.

      I also use “two bin” on items where it’s somewhat tough to tell when a single container is running low (particularly a can of shaving cream).


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