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Using kaizen principles

Kaizen is the Japanese strategy for continuous process improvement. The main goal of kaizen is to eliminate waste. This strategy is similar to lean manufacturing, with a few differences. The kaizen approach focuses on continuous process improvement in all aspects of manufacturing. For a business; the kaizen approach works at continually improving all the functions of a company from the CEO down to the assembly line of workers.

Kaizen and lean manufacturing both want to increase customer satisfaction, reduce waste, and provide a smooth and steady workflow. Lean manufacturing was developed on the basic principles of kaizen.

Kaizen calls for never-ending methods of improvement. Kaizen is a process that involves everyone at the company and it is more than just improving the productiveness of the company. Kaizen will help to humanize the workplace, eliminate excess work, and it will teach people how to perform their job to the best of their abilities and to reduce waste in the manufacturing process.

There are 3 main principles to Kaizen:

  • First, you must consider the process and the results. The process and results will surface the actions needed to achieve the correct results.

  • Second, you must have systematic thinking of the entire process instead of just the immediate problems. This is simply to avoid creating or missing problems in other parts of the process.

  • Third, you need to 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.

In order for Kaizen to be effective, the entire company needs to get on board. Everyone must work together to successfully implement Kaizen. Toyota is the inventor of the Kaizen method and they have found that working in small groups will improve productivity in individual areas. Each group will have a supervisor that is in charge of reporting their progress to management. The small improvements will lead to bigger improvements throughout the entire company. This is why kaizen is called a "continuous process improvement" system or a "continual improvement method."

Kaizen works by making changes and monitoring the results and then making necessary adjustments. When you are using kaizen, all personnel are expected to stop moving production lines if there is any slight notification of abnormalities. Employees then need to identify solutions to fix the problem. From there, management will be in charge of implementing the changes and moving forward.

Management must also maintain the machines and improve them for the future. The maintenance process is about maintaining the current managerial, technological, and operating standards. The improvement process focuses on improving the current standards. With kaizen thinking, the maintenance function will establish a set of rules, policies, directives, and standard operating procedures.

The kaizen cycle works by creating a standardized operation. After the operation is standardized, it will be measured. The measurements will be compared against the requirements and then employees will be able to find ways to innovate the process. Once new ideas have been implemented, it will be tested to see if it meets the business needs and if it increases productivity. If productivity increases then it will be the new standardized process. This process will be implemented throughout the entire company and adopted by all the employees.

Management will also be in charge of making sure everyone at the company accepts the kaizen method and that they are all properly using it. Management will always towards revising the current standards and establishing better ones. Kaizen uses small improvements over a specific period of time and it results in coordinated continuous efforts by every employee at the company. Companies that implement kaizen see a significant decrease in wastes and an increase in their revenue stream.

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