Kaizen is a philosophy, a methodology, and a way of mind. There are a number of tools and conceptskaizen utilizes to inspire the continuous mindset. Below are a few of our favorite.
In kaizen, management has two functions: maintenance and improvement. Setting standards and keeping them is an important part of kaizen. One of management’s primary roles is to maintain the technological and operating standards that have been put into place. They make sure that everyone performs their assigned tasks according to explicitly outlined standards and performs them on a daily basis.
Management’s other role is improvement. They must be constantly looking for ways to raise the current operating standards. This is an ongoing effort and must be a daily part of the manager’s job.
Process vs. Results
Process is the holy grail of kaizen. Managers often concentrate on results too much
and pay too little attention to the process. Kaizen will change that behavior. The kaizen manager realizes that improving the process will improve the result. This is why kaizen’s main focus is on the process.
The PDCA cycle is a system used to ensure the continuation of the kaizen principles. It is a vital part of the process.
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Plan refers to establishing a target and a strategy for improvement. This is a must. Without a target, how do you know if you have achieved success?
Do refers to the implementation of your plan.
Check is when you determine if your plan actually improved the process.
Act is the process of standardizing the improved procedure so that it can be continued and so that the problem will not return.
By following the PDCA cycle, you will ensure that your process improves and does not degrade.
Quality is always the highest priority in a kaizen system. But quality does not only refer to the finished product, it also refers to the processes and standards that create the product. It runs through all phases
of company activity: design, production, management, sales, and service. It is both the goal and the method of the production cycle.
Speak with Data
One of kaizen’s biggest strengths is that it solves problems. But in order for the model to work, you must gather relevant data that can be analyzed. Without this data you will be flying blind. You will never be able to tell what is working and what needs to be improved. Data is the lifeblood of the kaizen system.
The Next Process Is the Customer
Each product is made by a series of processes, one coming before the next. The kaizen model stresses the importance of quality in each stage of manufacturing. The worker responsible for each stage should never pass a defective part (or inaccurate information) to the next stage. This is what is meant by “the next process is the customer.” If every worker embraces this philosophy, the end result will be a dramatic drop in defective products.
Another major concept of kaizen is visual management. The opportunities for improvement may present themselves on a daily basis, but if you are not able to
see them, they will be missed. One of the primary methods used in kaizen is creating an environment where tools, supplies, and processes that are out of place or out of sync can be seen right away.
These are just a few concepts used to ensure kaizen is successful in the workplace. Many tools and strategies fall under the umbrella of kaizen and it is important to familiarize yourself with them. With so many tools at your disposal, you can ensure your kaizen efforts are successful.
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