Whilst there are a variety of methods that can be used to simplify materials handling processes, making them more efficient, one of the more commonly used is that of kitting.

Kitting 101

By and large kitting refers to the grouping of parts and materials that are needed during the manufacturing process of a particular product into a kit which is issued together often under a singe part number. The parts within a kit (often referred to as a bill of materials) are commonly consumed either at the same time or during a short space of time making their supply as a group more efficient than supplying them individually.

Key advantages of kitting

The key benefit of utilizing kitting is a reduction in material handling and part processing time at point of use. By reducing material handling assembly/manufacturing time for operatives efficiency is improved and delays in the manufacturing process minimized.

Key problems with kitting

Kitting relies on a number of major inputs – firstly that the demand profile can be achieved and secondly that the parts requirement is well understood (i.e. which parts make an appropriate kit and in what quantity). As with all supply processes – kitting can fail if parts are unavailable – many organizations may attempt to compensate for stock shortages by part issuing a kit. Its important when kits are being defined that the procurement team is consulted and that there is awareness of the impact that stock shortages may cause to the kitting process.

The kitting process

The kitting process will usually follow these common steps.

1/ With consultation with production/assembly team the materials planning team will identify which parts will make up the kit.
2/ Inventory of these “kit parts” will be assessed and purchase orders raised to cover any gaps in requirement.
3/ A part number for the kit is identified and a process for issuing the kit established.
4/ The materials handling team, triggered by appropriate demand, will carry out a picking activity and fill an appropriate storage container with the kit.

Considering how kits are deployed.

One of the significant advantages of using kits is how they are deployed – for example many organizations may utilize trolleys to store kits – these can double as Kanbans adding further efficiency whilst making it easy for operatives to access materials required. Other benefits may come in suppliers providing pre-prepared kits in suitable containers further reducing the requirement for material handling.

Summary

Kitting is one of many methods used to make materials handling more efficient whilst making it more simple to consume at point of use. It is not without its challenges but a careful approach to deployment can help realize the many benefits.

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