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Using the Kaizen methodology to reduce waste

industrialcenter36590146.jpgManufacturing organizations deal with waste on a daily basis. Waste could include idle time of equipment, idle time of employees, and some of the more common thought of actual wasted product, defects, recalls, shipment issues, so on and so forth. Studies show that Manufacturing companies waste over 70% of their resources, while those who implement Lean Manufacturing cut that percentage in half.

Kaizen methodology deals with change. It is a philosophy of continuous change for improvement. 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.

Involving all employees to help better their work environment improves morale and gives each employee a personal stake in the company. Set up a method to acquire suggestions and ideas, analyze, and then implement.

Standardize your processes. Set up guidelines that must be followed. Get feedback on how these standardized processes are working and analyze them. Don't limit yourself to one method of operation. You may find that there may be a better process.If you find a better way, change the standard.

Come up with a concise housekeeping policy. Sort your product in the most effective manor. Being organized reduces time and effort in finding material. Ensure that all areas are cleaned and swept continuously. Maintaining a clean area is not only more efficient, it is safer.

In order for Kaizen to work properly, you must implement the 3 following principles:

  • 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 a 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.

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. Obviously, the Toyota Production System is known for using kaizen. Within Toyota, all personnel are expected to stop moving production lines if there is any slight notification of abnormalities. The employee is then expected to suggest an improvement to resolve the abnormality (this initiates kaizen).
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 focuses on improving the current standards. With kaizen thinking, the maintenance function will establish a set of rules, policies, directives, and standard operating procedures.

From here, management must make everyone work at following the standard operating procedures. Typically this assignment is given to human resources to develop a letter that will site discipline for failure to adhere to the standard operating procedures. As far as improvement goes, management will always towards revising the current standards and establishing better ones. Kaizen uses small improvements over a specific period of time and result in coordinated continuous efforts by every employee at the company.

In western culture, Kaizen is often referred to as "continuous process improvement". Instead of taking a stern approach against defects, CPI focuses on inspiring employees to work harder and work together to achieve the same end result. Employees must have a change of attitude and learn new ways to perform their job duties. Proper implementation of kaizen will reduce wastes and improve your company's production performance.

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