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Kaizen Lean Manufacturing

Kaizen Lean Manufacturing

Kaizen is the Japanese for “improvement“. When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, kaizen refers to activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers.

It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organisational boundaries into the supply chain. It has been applied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life-coaching, government, banking, and other industries.

By improving standardised activities and processes, kaizen aims to eliminate waste (see lean manufacturing or 7 Wastes).

Kaizen Lean Manufacturing

 

 

HISTORY OF KAIZEN

Kaizen was first implemented in several Japanese businesses after the Second World War, influenced in part by American business and quality management teachers who visited the country. It has since spread throughout the world and is now being implemented in environments outside of business and productivity.

The Sino-Japanese word “kaizen” simply means “change for better”, with no inherent meaning of either “continuous” or “philosophy” in Japanese dictionaries or in everyday use. The word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small, in the same sense as the English word “improvement”.  However, given the common practice in Japan of labelling industrial or business improvement techniques with the word “kaizen” (for lack of a specific Japanese word meaning “continuous improvement” or “philosophy of improvement”), especially in the case of oft-emulated practices spearheaded by Toyota, the word Kaizen in English is typically applied to measures for implementing continuous improvement, or even taken to mean a “Japanese philosophy” thereof. The discussion below focuses on such interpretations of the word, as frequently used in the context of modern management discussions.

Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanises the workplace, eliminates overly hard work (“muri”), and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste in business processes. In all, the process suggests a humanised approach to workers and to increasing productivity: “The idea is to nurture the company’s people as much as it is to praise and encourage participation in kaizen activities.”

Successful implementation requires “the participation of workers in the improvement.” People at all levels of an organisation participate in kaizen, from the CEO down to janitorial staff, as well as external stakeholders when applicable. Kaizen is most commonly associated with manufacturing operations, as at Toyota, but has also been used in non-manufacturing environments. The format for kaizen can be individual, suggestion system, small group, or large group. At Toyota, it is usually a local improvement within a workstation or local area and involves a small group in improving their own work environment and productivity. This group is often guided through the kaizen process by a line supervisor; sometimes this is the line supervisor’s key role. Kaizen on a broad, cross-departmental scale in companies, generates total quality management, and frees human efforts through improving productivity using machines and computing power.

While kaizen (at Toyota) usually delivers small improvements, the culture of continual aligned small improvements and standardisation yields large results in terms of overall improvement in productivity. This philosophy differs from the “command and control” improvement programs (e g Business Process Improvement) of the mid-twentieth century. Kaizen methodology includes making changes and monitoring results, then adjusting. Large-scale pre-planning and extensive project scheduling are replaced by smaller experiments, which can be rapidly adapted as new improvements are suggested.

In modern usage, it is designed to address a particular issue over the course of a week and is referred to as a “kaizen blitz” or “kaizen event”. These are limited in scope, and issues that arise from them are typically used in later blitzes. A person who makes a large contribution in the successful implementation of kaizen during kaizen events is awarded the title of “Zenkai”.

Understanding the KAIZEN Approach

Because Kaizen is more a philosophy than a specific tool, its approach is found in many different process improvement methods ranging from Total Quality Management (TQM), to the use of employee suggestion boxes. Under kaizen, all employees are responsible for identifying the gaps and inefficiencies and everyone, at every level in the organization, suggests where improvement can take place.

Kaizen aims for improvements in productivity, effectiveness, safety, and waste reduction, and those who follow the approach often find a whole lot more in return:

  • Less waste – inventory is used more efficiently as are employee skills.
  • People are more satisfied – they have a direct impact on the way things are done.
  • Improved commitment – team members have more of a stake in their job and are more inclined to commit to doing a good job.
  • Improved retention – satisfied and engaged people are more likely to stay.
  • Improved competitiveness – increases in efficiency tend to contribute to lower costs and higher quality products.
  • Improved consumer satisfaction – coming from higher quality products with fewer faults.
  • Improved problem solving – looking at processes from a solutions perspective allows employees to solve problems continuously.
  • Improved teams – working together to solve problems helps build and strengthen existing teams.

Kaizen Lean Manufacturing

Fabufacture exists to provide you with everything you need to set-up and run a lean facility, within a few clicks of a mouse!

We are the only company in the UK to supply everything for the lean manufacturing facility. From posters and training dvds, to red tags and supermarket racking.

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Kaizen Lean Manufacturing

We’re here to help you and your facility to win. To win in this economy, you need to be lean.

To be a lean manufacturing plant, your culture (people) must think lean and your facilities must be also be lean.

 

What do we mean by lean?

We’re referring to working smarter not harder. By having a workforce that thinks in a smart (lean) way. By having a facility that supports a visual workplace. By having a work force that actively seeks to eliminates the 7 deadly wastes on a daily basis.

Fabufacture is here to not only help you on your voyage to become a lean manufacturing facility, but to help you maintain your lean culture by providing you with the necessary tools.

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