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ChangeWise Quick Read: What is a Pull Process?

In this article, we take a high-level look at the pull system and its related benefits.

What is meant by a Pull System?

Pull in Lean terminology refers to the creation of a system that starts work when customer demand occurs. It also focuses on the rate at which the product or service flows through the value stream.

For example, in lean car manufacturing, the business process would only allow a car dealer to request a new car build if they have a customer request for it.

Why implement a pull process?

Implementing a pull system will reduce the waste in your business processes. The idea is that you only produce what you need when you have a customer who wants it. This minimises the likelihood of unwanted stock, reduces labour costs, helps prioritise tasks and prevents teams from overloading.

When applying a push strategy, a company’s production is based on forecasted demand, which can fail to correspond with the actual demand. Such an imbalance can create unexpected waste.

Key Points for creating a Pull Process?

  • Process only what the customer needs when they request it – then stop
  • Pull all products and services through the value stream, synchronised to the drumbeat (Takt time) of real customer demand
  • If a step stops, then all preceding steps should stop
  • All work steps must be completed within the Takt Time
  • Each step in the value stream pulls items from the previous step
  • Predictability and reliability are key

Lists of uncompleted items are minimised or eliminated, reducing waste

Remember! Takt time is the net time available for production, divided by the customer’s daily demand.

For example, if our customer demand is 240 notebooks and we have 480 minutes to produce them, our Takt time is 2 minutes.

How do I create a Pull Process?

The first step is identifying pull signals. This is where visual workflows are useful, they can help you gain a holistic view of your work processes and catch all the important signals. We refer to these visual systems as ‘Kanban’. Kanban visualises both the process and the actual work passing through the process. We will learn more about Kanban in a future Quick Read!

In Summary,

Implementing a pull system is an effective way to optimise resources in a business process. Applying pull will enable significant improvements in cost, efficiency, waste elimination, demand management and productivity.

Want to know more about how a pull process could help your organisation? Contact us at

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