The Benefits of Continuous Improvement
As manufacturers, many of you are no doubt familiar with the term “Kaizen” and some of you may even have “Kaizen events”. But not everyone knows the theory behind this workplace methodology. So, what exactly is Kaizen, and why does it matter?
The word “Kaizen” is derived from two Japanese words meaning “change” (Kai) and “for the better” (Zen). Together, the word implies continuous improvement. This term popularized throughout the Western world around 30 years ago and today is recognized as one of the key elements to a business’s long-term strategy. The Kaizen method should encourage both workers and managers to work towards improvement with large jobs and everyday tasks.
The most productive Kaizen meetings tend to be quick brainstorming sessions held often, if not daily. Combining the talents of individuals on every level allows your company to access a wealth of knowledge already on the shop floor. The end goal is to create a Kaizen culture, inspiring employees to think productively on their own.
In short, a Kaizen event is a fast way to implement changes to specific areas of need with existing processes and workers.
Lean Manufacturing with Kaizen
Lean production is another practice often used in the manufacturing workplace. To work lean is to eliminate waste to the point that you are enhancing efficiency. When paired with Kaizen, the two methods help you reduce waste and continuously improve working practices. As an employer, you want this to become the natural way of thinking for your employees.
How to incorporate lean and Kaizen into your daily work:
- What are the needs of each department? Set small, quickly achievable goals. If you have been promoting a Kaizen Culture, this should be an easy task. Employees assigned to the job often have the best ideas for how the process could be improved. What do you want from the relationship? Even when you have the same overall goals, businesses may have different reasons for partnering. Ensure you discuss expectations to avoid frustration and disappointment later.
- Avoid creating a more significant problem or a lengthy fix. Collect all the necessary background information and once again, consult your workers! Employees are eager to show you want they have learned on the job.Plan to communicate. Disagreements are bound to happen. Be proactive by scheduling regular meetings, including both parties. These are an excellent opportunities to bring up issues as a normal course of doing business.
- Decide on the best possible solutions and prepare to act.
- Time to implement your plan! Take action & put those plans into motion.
- Measure results. Review the outcome of your actions with your team. Did everything work as hoped? Determine if the job is complete.
- If the condition is still present, adjust and try again. Not all situations are quick fixes; some will take trial and error!
Need a Hand?
Remember that you do not have to go it alone. There are companies offering services who are trained in Kaizen and Lean Manufacturing and they can help facilitate these events and provide guidance on next steps.
Let Onex help with your next Kaizen event
At Onex, we believe a partnership starts with listening well and working closely with our clients to meet their unique needs. It is also about company values. We treat our employees and coworkers with respect and likewise they care about the quality of their work and the success of our clients. Onex’s culture is founded on trust, and this makes us a better partner to our clients as we work together for mutual success.
We will help develop a corrective hypothesis, support implementation of the new method, evaluate the results, and adjust accordingly. In addition, our procurement and materials experts can also support your Plant Workshop Events (mini-Kaizens).