In this short video Mr. Arthur describes differences between push and pull.

Implementation of the pull system is important part of any lean transformation, and the first step is understanding the difference between push and pull.

You can see more videos by Mr. Arthur here, and his book Lean Six Sigma Demystified here.

Want to know more?

Hopp and Spearman (2004) present concise history of pull, and go into detailed discussion regarding fundamental difference between push and pull.

Powell and Arica (2015) conducted detailed literature review of various pull definitions and interpretations. They propose following context-dependent definitions of pull:


In Demand-pull, value-adding activities only take place in response of real customer demand. However, production can still be either pull-based or push-based.


In Production-pull, value-adding activities take place in response of a specific withdrawal from an explicitly limited inventory buffer, or supermarket. The direction of information flow is the reverse direction of material flow, and production takes place in order to replenish an exact amount of consumed products and / or components.


In the case of high variety, low volume (project-based) production, Plan-pull is the appropriate pull-mechanism. The focus here is on the finished items and respective due dates, and value-adding activities take place based on a priority rule such as earliest due date (EDD) and constraint management.


Hopp, W.J. and Spearman, M.L., 2004. To pull or not to pull: what is the question?. Manufacturing & service operations management, 6(2), pp.133-148.

Powell, D. and Arica, E., 2015. To Pull or Not to Pull: A Concept Lost in Translation?. American Journal of Management, 15(2), pp.64-73.

This post was originally written for The Lean Presentation.