Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Revisiting Kaizen!

Every once in a while it's time to dust off an older Blog post and revisit the topic. So here is one I originally wrote in 2005 about Kaizen. I've seen several definitions for the translation of the word Kaizen but the one that works best for me is "change excellent". In a number of ways Kaizen has become to mean continuous improvement. The folks embracing LEAN manufacturing use Kaizen events as a tool for improvement. Kaizen events are short term in length and focused on a specific problem or problem area needing improvement. A team will come together to work on the elimination of wastes or "Muda". There are 8 deadly wastes in the Kaizen world - DOWNTIME
  • D - Defects
  • O- Overproduction
  • W -Waiting
  • N - Not utilizing people
  • T - Transport
  • I - Inspection
  • M - Motion
  • E - Excess Processing

A Kaizen event is tyically focused on reduction of wastes. Kaizen methods from the House of Lean may be used. Some areas of focus might be as follows

  1. Work Flow Kaizen - improving workflow through KANBAN or even achieving single piece workflows
  2. Set Up reductions - Reducing machine setup time.
  3. Variability reductions - improve processing quality through six sigma tools.
  4. 5S - Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain
  5. TPM - improve equipment reliability through total productive maintenance.

Organizations using LEAN have shown that they can:

  • Meet Customer Demand consistently
  • Reduce environmental emissions and improve safety performance
  • Increase output and production
  • Improve quality
  • Reduce changeover and setup times
  • Obtain more flexible manufacturing systems.

A Kaizen event can be used in almost any circumstance manufacturing or non manufacturing. Focusing on specific goals these events are short term in nature usually 2-5 days at most. The events are well planned in advance and utilize a cross functional team of employees. Most importantly these events are focused on action and resolving problems quickly. Organizational knowledge is improved through the use of Kaizen. During the event, employees will document the current state of operations, brainstorm and make recommendations on improvement, utilize the LEAN tools such as 5S and finally they will implement changes and measure the results. Together with management support the Kaizen event team will celebrate the successes.

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