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Using Kaizen methodology to reduce manufacturing waste

One of the major problems for manufacturers is dealing with waste. There are many different kinds of waste that can be found in manufacturing. This could include but is not limited to: idle time of equipment, idle time of employees, actual wasted product, defects, recalls, shipment issues, etc. Some studies indicate that manufacturing companies waste over 70% of their resources, while those who implement Lean Manufacturing cut that percentage in half.

Part of using Lean Manufacturing is implementing the Kaizen methodology, to help reduce waste. The Kaizen methodology deals with change. It is a philosophy of continuous change for improvement, and betterment. In order for it to work,Kaizen requires a set standard for high quality, companywide involvement from all employees, effort from all employees top to bottom, a willingness to change and do things differently, and most importantly communication. In order for Kaizen to work properly, you must be able to implement the following principles:

  • Consider the process and the results. The process and results will surface the actions that are needed to achieve the correct results.

  • Have a systematic thinking of the entire process, instead of just the immediate problems. This is simply to help avoid creating or missing problems, in other parts of the process.

  • Approach kaizen with a non-judgmental, non-blaming, and learning method. This allows for the re-examination of assumptions that were part of the current process.

Here are some of the facets of how using Kaizen methodology to reduce manufacturing waste-

  • Involve the employees-This is your first line of defense in reducing waste in your company. Additionally, involving all employees to help better their work environment has the added benefit of improving morale, and gives each employee a personal stake in the company. It is imperative to set up a method to acquire suggestions and ideas, analyze, and then implement.

  • Standardize your processes-It is crucial that you set up guidelines and make sure they are followed. You will need to get feedback on how these standardized processes are working, and analyze them. Never limit yourself to one method of operation. You may find that there is a better process. If you find a better way, change the standard, implement that process.

  • Be consistent with the new policies-To really bring about a reduction in waste and an improvement in efficiency, you will need to come up with a concise housekeeping policy. These policies can include: making sure that you sort your product in the most effective manor. This is critical since being organized reduces time and effort, in finding material. You will want to ensure that all areas are cleaned and swept continuously. Maintaining a clean area is not only more efficient, it is also safer. Each manufacturer will have to determine the precise policies that will benefit their profitability and reduce waste for their specific production process.

It should be noted that Kaizen can be implemented on an individual level, or it can be used within large and small groups. Kaizen works by making changes and monitoring the results, and then making necessary adjustments. It is important to understand that once Kaizen is implemented, it is up to management to improve, and maintain it. Maintenance is about maintaining the current managerial, technological, and operating standards. Improvement always focuses on improving the current standards. With Kaizen thinking, the maintenance function will establish a set of rules, policies, directives, and standard operating procedures. Kaizen is intended to be used for small improvements over a specific period of time, and result in coordinated continuous efforts, by every employee at the company. Proper implementation of Kaizen will reduce wastes, and improve your company's production performance.

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