Kaizen is an approach for continuous improvement in manufacturing units involving all the employees and other stakeholders. The basic Kaizen concept is that the continuous incremental small changes improve the quality of manufactured products. Well planned customized Kaizen strategy and its professional implementation results in considerable improvement in productivity in terms of production volume and quality at a lower cost. Kaizen benefits are not limited just to the manufacturing sector but other departments are also benefited. As Kaizen implementation involves everyone; so, it becomes an organizational culture not just a short-term drive for quality improvement.
Five S of Kaizen:
Kaizen, a Japanese word indicating ‘change for good’, includes the essence of five S:
1. SEIRI – It means ‘Sort Out’. It encourages the employees to sort out the items as “Necessary”, ”Critical”, ” Important”, “Useless, “Not required now” etc. Useless items are discarded to reduce the waste (Lean theory also supports to minimize the waste).
2. SEDITION – It means ‘Organize’. Well organized working space saves lots of effort and time of employees that can be used for performance and productivity boost.
3. SEISO – It “SEISO” means cleaning the workplace. The cleaned workspaces improve the productivity and performance of employees besides reducing the chances of accidents.
4. SEIKETSU – It means to Standardization. It encourages the organization to develop certain standards, rules and policies to validate the quality.
5. SHITSUKE – it means self discipline to respect the organization’s policies and being adhered to regulated norms and work procedures.
The Ways Kaizen Enhances Productivity in Manufacturing Units:
1. Employee Satisfaction:
Kaizen improves employee satisfaction because workers at all levels are invited to review the current processes and to make suggestions for betterment. Involvement infuses a sense of worth and satisfaction among the employees. The team meetings for inviting suggestions to improve quality and processes provide the employees opportunities to showcase their unleashed potential that benefits the manufacturing units to identify and use the unexplored in-house talent for increased productivity.
2. Improved Safety:
Kaizen implementation makes the working spaces cleaner and safe that benefits the manufacturing units in multiple ways. Kaizen encourages each employee to clean his working area on a daily basis; therefore, he knows better about the working condition of equipment. Safety training is conducted for management and staff both. Employees make the experience based recommendations to make their working floors safer. The implemented ideas cut down accident-related injuries, medical care cost and shutdowns resulting in increased production at lower cost.
3. Start for Small Changes:
Kaizen implementation is a journey with small steps; it doesn’t force to take leaps beyond practical limits. Small changes are made making the employees tuned to the introduced changes. Test the suggestions before implementation. It increases the implementation speed for improvement and reduces the possibility of resistance for a major change. The approach takes care of root causes of problems. Employees identify and correct the small issues before letting these become larger to halt the production.
4. Empowerment of Employees: Employees are the closest to machines; so, they are better aware of the problems and possibilities for the near future. Employees are respected as the greatest assets in a Kaizen manufacturing unit; therefore, they are empowered to implement their ideas for improvements. The continuous learning with objective oriented training is a part of ‘Kaizen for improvement’ program. The empowerment and authority encourage a sense of ownership that improves their overall morale, performance and motivation.
5. Documentation of Outcomes Before & After the Implementation: Building database and managing with facts are the key exercises in kaizen working environment. Documentation helps to evaluate the needed and achieved improvements. Mapping of processes helps to identify the wastes and the specific areas for improvement. The collected data acts as a roadmap for setting benchmark for production improvement. Measuring performance demonstrates improved ROI. The measured ROI improvements pertaining to quality, resource utilization, cost, customer satisfaction, staff efficiency, space utilization and other KPIs encourage the management people to support the employees for implementation of changes with defined metrics.
6. Development of Own Kaizen Guidelines: Every manufacturing has different working environment because of different aspects. Before taking first step for Kaizen introduction, it is must to understand the existing conditions, problems, possible barriers, objectives, available resources etc. Reflecting the implemented Kaizen efforts after getting improvements is an important part of Kaizen journey. Each achievement should be taken as a lesson to set the guidelines for the next benchmark.
7. Enforcement of Improvement as a Culture: Resisting the change at initial stage is a human nature. The best part of Kaizen approach is that the small changes are implemented in incremental manner; therefore, changes get high acceptance with low resistance. The acknowledgement of individuals’ contributions further weakens the resistance and Kaizen implementation is accepted as a mission for productivity improvement.
Importance of Kaizen Training:
“Making the things in the manner they should be” is the guiding path for Kaizen implementation. Managers and work-floor employees emphasize to improve the existing infrastructure efficiency instead of investing more for production improvement. To enable the employees provide feasible suggestions, for productivity improvement, they need to be equipped to identify and analyze the problems. The Kaizen training, customized by Kaizen consultancy company, takes care of all the key concerns like:
- Improvement in own work
- Cutting the cost of energy, material consumption and use of resources
- Improvement in working environment
- Improvement in machines performance and processes
- Improvement in tools utilization
- Improvement in management
- Improvement in product quality
- Innovation for new techniques to produce better quality products
- Customers’ satisfaction, relationships and satisfaction ……Others
Being Kaizen stick needs the organizations to have basic stability of the processes, standards, and the ways for management to sustain the achieved improvements. It is important to identify which Kaizen blitzes can be eliminated by getting small improvements in that particular area over a period of time. Identification of scope for improvement and planning to implement the new strategies need professional expertise and experience; it makes the role of Kaizen consultant a key contributor to the productivity enhancement of manufacturing units.