Friday, April 26, 2013

Introducing Kaizens in your organisation ..

Kaizen is basically the Japanese word for continuous improvement. The basic success behind the Toyota Production System or Japanese companies has been their over stress on not being complacent with their achievements and trying all the time to do even better. Continuous Improvement is thus part of their life. Moreover Kaizens have become a part of the Total Quality management revolution that has started with Feigenbaum's work in this area.

Well then as an Industry practitioner, the next question you are going to ask is how am I going to initiate kaizens in the organisation where I am working and bring in continuous Improvement all the time ?

The idea is quite simple.. Kaizen suggestions are ideas which you put on paper should come from the workers who are immediately on the job. That way their ideas will have greater relevance and will definitely bring in better results. 

Any suggestion that brings in reduction of WASTE by way of 

a. reducing effort, 

b. improvement of shopfloor, 

c.reduction of fatigue, 

d. more production, 

e. improved productivity, 

f. less defects, 

g. better quality, 

h. improved morale of the employees, 

i. greater teamwork, 

j. less pollution and damage to environment. 

k. less energy consumption, 

l. less waiting, less transportation, less processing time, less use of inputs, less use of critical 
resources, better use of critical resources, 

m. improved safety and less accidents, 

n. less wear and tear of machines, 

o. better methods of operation and so on qualify to be a Kaizen suggestion.

The suggestions are written on piece of paper and the employee is motivated to submit it to the dept head. An employee can submit any number of Kaizen suggestions. 

At the end of the month, all the Kaizens are collected and the Kaizen committee, which can be interested people and middle management employees who are comfortable with the system , maximum of three to four, segregate the good and implementable kaizens. The Kaizens are segregated as A, B and C types depending on suggestions that can be implemented with no extra costs (A), suggestions that  can be implemented with extra costs (B) and suggestions that are totally impractical.

The first priority is for Kaizens of the A type (that do not have any financial commitment). There are many development opportunities that escape the attention of the operations personnel / management that do not need any resource commitment, but which can bring improvements straightaway. These are the opportunities that need to be tackled first.

The next priority is for Kaizens of the B type (needing financial commitment). Depending on the availability of funds and management commitment, the organisation can think of taking up B type Kaizens.

After the implementation is done, (after doing a thorough PDCA cycle) and documenting the benefits, notice is put on the notice board as a form of appreciation stating the name originator of the kaizen, his dept, the work area, benefits in terms of improved productivity, output and benefits in costs, etc.. 

This method brings in gradual improvement over time and is different from Kaizen blitz which is a radical improvement workshop which brings in improvements in a matter of weeks. But generally in the Japanese or Toyota system, patience pays and it takes months for results and benefits to show up and this change is permanent and long lasting with the full support of the person doing it, ie.  the worker.

If any organisation is interested in implementing Kaizens on their shopfloor / offices, they can contact the author.


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