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ntroduction POLCA

POLCA stands for Paired-cell Overlapping Loops of Cards with Authorization. It i

s a variant of Kanban, suitable for companies who produce many different and/or
customer-specific products.
POLCA was invented by the American professor Rajan Suri. He positions this workload controlling system as part of a broader management philosophy, called Quick
Response Manufacturing (QRM). In that approach, lead time reduction is the Holy
The cellular (capacity-controlled) organization
To apply POLCA and/or QRM, the shop floor is divided in flexible and multidiscip
linary staffed work cells. These cells only make semi-finished products for rece
iving cells, when these have (at that moment) free capacity to process the produ
cts further. To assure that, adapted Kanban-cards are used, which circulate betw
een the workcells. These POLCA-cards signal which workcells downstream have free

POLCA (introduction article)

POLCA: the (capacity-controlled) cellular factory
By Dr Jaap van Ede, editor-in-chief business-improvement.eu. The first version w
as published in a Dutch specialist journal,
PT Industrieel Management (may 07). Since then, the article has been regularly up
Use one, make-one is the basic principle of Lean Manufacturing and the matching Ka
nban-system. However, the number of customer-specific producing companies for wh
ich this approach doesn t work without adaptation is growing. Their hope is among
others placed in a adapted version of Kanban: the POLCA-system.
POLCA divides the job floor in flexible and multidisciplinary staffed workcells.
These only make semi-finished products for receiving workcells which have free
capacity. To assure that, POLCA-cards circulate between the workcells, which sig
nal if and where there is room for further processing.
The inventor of POLCA, Rajan Suri, positions this system as part of a broader ma
nagement philosophy, called Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM). In that approach
, lead time reduction is the Holy Grail. One of the key questions to be answered
by this article: What do POLCA (and QRM) add to alternative (and older) logisti
c improvement methods, like Lean Manufacturing and the Theory of Constraints?