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Re: Kaizen philosophy -
February 15th, 2009
Kaizen was created in Japan following World War II. The word Kaizen means "continuous improvement". It comes from the Japanese words "Kai" meaning school and "Zen" meaning wisdom.
Kaizen is a system that involves every employee - from upper management to the cleaning crew. Everyone is encouraged to come up with small improvement suggestions on a regular basis. This is not a once a month or once a year activity. It is continuous. Japanese companies, such as Toyota and Canon, a total of 60 to 70 suggestions per employee per year are written down, shared and implemented.
In most cases these are not ideas for major changes. Kaizen is based on making little changes on a regular basis: always improving productivity, safety and effectiveness while reducing waste.
Suggestions are not limited to a specific area such as production or marketing. Kaizen is based on making changes anywhere that improvements can be made. Western philosophy may be summarized as, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Kaizen philosophy is to "do it better, make it better, improve it even if it isn't broken, because if we don't, we can't compete with those who do."
Kaizen in Japan is a system of improvement that includes both home and business life. Kaizen even includes social activities. It is a concept that is applied in every aspect of a person's life.
In business Kaizen encompasses many of the components of Japanese businesses that have been seen as a part of their success. Quality circles, automation, suggestion systems, just-in-time delivery, Kanban and 5S are all included within the Kaizen system of running a business.
Kaizen involves setting standards and then continually improving those standards. To support the higher standards Kaizen also involves providing the training, materials and supervision that is needed for employees to achieve the higher standards and maintain their ability to meet those standards on an on-going basis.
Benefits Resulting From Kaizen
Kaizen involves every employee in making change--in most cases small, incremental changes. It focuses on identifying problems at their source, solving them at their source, and changing standards to ensure the problem stays solved. It's not unusual for Kaizen to result in 25 to 30 suggestions per employee, per year, and to have over 90% of those implemented.
For example, Toyota is well-known as one of the leaders in using Kaizen. In 1999 at one U.S. plant, 7,000 Toyota employees submitted over 75,000 suggestions, of which 99% were implemented.
These continual small improvements add up to major benefits. They result in improved productivity, improved quality, better safety, faster delivery, lower costs, and greater customer satisfaction. On top of these benefits to the company, employees working in Kaizen-based companies generally find work to be easier and more enjoyable--resulting in higher employee moral and job satisfaction, and lower turn-over.
Regarded as a conceptual "umbrella" consisting of a collection of Japanese practices, Kaizen includes the following:
• Customer orientation
• Total Quality Control
• QC circles
• Suggestion systems
• Discipline in the workplace
• Total Productive Maintenance
• Zero defects
• New product development
• Small group activities
• Productivity improvement
• Statistical Quality Control
• Cooperative labor/management relations
Principles of Kaizen
• Consider the process and the results (not results-only);
• Systemic thinking of the whole process and not just that immediately in view (i.e. big picture, not solely the narrow view); and
• A learning, non-judgmental, non-blaming (because blaming is wasteful) approach and intent.
People at all levels of an organization participate in kaizen, from the CEO down, as well as external stakeholders when applicable. The format for kaizen can be individual, suggestion system, small group, or large group. In 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, indeed, sometimes this is the line supervisors key role.
Whilst Kaizen (in Toyota) usually delivers small improvements, the culture of continual aligned small improvements and standardisation yields large results in the form of compound productivity improvement. Hence the English translation of Kaizen can be: "continuous improvement",or "continual improvement."
This philosophy differs from the "command-and-control" improvement programs 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.
Tools of Kaizen
1. PDCA or Story Boards: Sequence of activities that show/discover what is going on.
2. 5S: Set the scene for Continuous Improvements, de-clutter the work place & raise morale.
3. 7 Wastes:
• Defects.- Quality defects originate rework, scrap and lost raw materials. If these defects go all the way to the customer, the loss will be even greater. To avoid this, we move from the traditional and obsolete “Quality Control” still in use in some facilities, to the innovative “Quality at the Source” (Jidoka) concept. Here, each member of the organization is empowered and will make sure that no faulty products leave or arrive at their work-stations. This is supported with ingenious “Mistake Proofing” (Poka-Yoke) devices.
• Waiting.- Caused mainly by low reliability and/or availability of the equipment, lack of stock or poor scheduling. Here we have several tools, strategies and disciplines that will prevent this type of loss. Analyzing your process, we will be able to propose cost-effective improvements, from simple relocations or remapping to TPM and other implementations.
• Processing.- Over-processing takes place everywhere. Think of those steps that do not add any real value. Processes that can be inaccurate and/or incorrect. We can team up with your manufacturing force and find the appropriate actions that will start saving you time, materials, space and money.
• Production.- Over-production is just as bad as underproduction. Production may also be too early or too late. Make sure production is performed at the right time in the right quantity. Lean Manufacturing establishes a one-piece flow environment where production obeys the market. We help drastically reduce this disagreement between supply and demand.
• Motion.- There are many cases of people required to perform unnecessary motion, or awkward movements, or where motion is not efficient (not adding value to the product). One of our customers saw in just a few hours, the reduction from 42 miles of motion of 24 people in three shifts to less than 2 miles of motion with 16 people in two shifts. Our mission is to use the same resources to produce more.
• Inventory.- Having too much raw material, WIP (work in process), finished goods because of large lots is sometimes overlooked and is a financial loss. SMED (Quick-Setup Strategy) implementations assist manufacturers to reduce lot sizes. Cellular organization or re-organization cuts WIP drastically. JIT deliveries provide instant solutions to the “conventional warehouse” problems. We are ready to help!
• Transportation.- A defective or poor layout of the plant, an ineffective material handling system, an inconvenient location, all cause too much transportation which adds cost and risk to the operation. A value stream mapping will give you a cutting edge to reduce some of that overlooked unnecessary transportation. We are prepared to introduce these improvements and help many companies achieve their goals.
4. 7 Old Quality Tools:
a. Measles Chart
b. Scatter (Correlation) Diagram
c. Check Sheet
d. Run Graphs
e. Control charts
f. Pareto 80:20
g. Fishbone Diagram
5. Value Stream Mapping
Identify and eliminate as much non-value adding activity as possible.
6. Visual Control & the Workstation :
•Adapt the workstation to the employee
- more security
- more comfort
- excessive fatigue
- useless efforts and movement
- less physical constraints
7. Success Stories:
• Good ideas should be promoted, through Success Stories
• • Record conditions, before and
• after the improvement
• • Show who (or which team)
• made the suggestion and
• implemented the improvement
• • What gains occurred
• • Have them prominently located
• Staff should write their own
• successes as well as the new
• standards. They can be
• formatted, typed etc later on,
• but not changed.
The principles of Kaizen Implementation
• Human resources are the most important company asset, processes must evolve by gradual improvement rather than radical changes,
• Improvement must be based on statistical/quantitative evaluation of process performance.
• Support throughout the entire structure is necessary to become successful at developing a strong Kaizen approach. Management as well as workers need to believe in the Kaizen idea and strive toward obtaining the small goals in order to reach overall success. Therefore, all members of an organization need to be trained in a manner to support this idea structure. Resources, measurements, rewards, and incentives all need to be aligned to and working with the Kaizen structure of ideas. It is the little things that add up to bigger things.
Basic Tips for Kaizen Activities
• Discard conventional fixed ideas.
• Think of how to do it, not why it cannot be done.
• Do not make excuses. Start by questioning current practices.
• Do not seek perfection. Do it right away even if for only 50% of target.
• Correct it right away, if you make mistake.
• Do not spend money for KAIZEN, use your wisdom.
• Wisdom is brought out when faced with hardship.
• Ask "WHY?" five times and seek root causes.
• Seek the wisdom of ten people rather than the knowledge of one.
• KAIZEN ideas are infinite.