What is a WIP limit?

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    • #17
      Mike Wilson

      Setting a cap on how much work-in-progress inventory you have will help your Kanban system run smoothly and efficiently. WIP limits, indicated on a Kanban board, is representative of the number of tasks being worked on at one time. By limiting WIP, your pull system can operate without getting overloaded. It keeps people more focused, exposes bottlenecks, and really helps in managing the flow of work in a Kanban system.

      So, how are WIP limits set? Usually with a guesstimate. If you are just starting Kanban, don’t worry about the accuracy of initial WIP limits—they’re something that can be changed over time. Some metrics that may help you in determining limits include value-added time and non value-time in your process. To get the most out of Kanban, it’s important WIP limits are not set too high. The more that is being worked on means tasks will take longer and you’re not meeting customer demand as quickly as you could have.

      As part of your continuous improvement journey, remember that WIP limits are not static. These limits will change over time with your organization to create a smoother flow of materials and production. What challenges have you or your organization faced when setting work-in-progress limits? Please share your experiences below!

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