What is the Kaizen Methodology in LEAN Manufacturing?

In figuring out how to implement lean manufacturing principles, the kaizen approach examples methodology is often considered the “building block” for all lean production methods. Kaizen is focused on eliminating waste and improving productivity. It also aims to achieve sustained continuous improvement in the targeted activities and processes within an organization.

Kaizen approach examples are the foundation of lean production. This means that continuous improvement is encouraged. This philosophy teaches that small, incremental improvements over time can lead to significant improvements. The Kaizen strategy involves workers from all levels of the organization working together to solve a problem or improve processes. To quickly identify waste areas or processes, the team uses analytical tools such as value stream mapping (or “the 5 whys”). The team implements the selected improvements quickly, often within 72 hours after initiating the Kaizen event. They usually focus on solutions that don’t require large capital outlays.

Regular follow-up events are necessary to ensure that the Kaizen improvements are maintained over time. Kaizen is an analytical tool that can be used to implement other lean methods such as cellular manufacturing conversions and just-in-time production systems.

Lean manufacturing kaizen methodology – Implementation Approach examples

Organizations that are committed to continuous improvement must foster a culture in which employees can identify and solve problems. Organizations that implement kaizen-type improvement methods have established procedures and ground rules that are clearly communicated and reinforced by training. These are the basic steps to implement a Kaizen event. However, organizations may adapt these activities to fit their particular circumstances.

Phase I: Planning and Preparation. These areas could include areas with significant work-in-progress, areas that are slow or have significant administrative delays, areas where quality and performance do not meet customer expectations, and/or areas with significant market or financial impacts (i.e. the most “value-added” activities).

Once the factory has identified the most suitable production or administrative process, then the Kaizen event will focus on the problem. This is the problem that requires improvement such as quality improvement, lead time reduction, or production yield improvement. Managers often form a cross-functional team to address the problem once they have identified it.

Teams should include workers in the target administrative or production area. However, it is important to have “fresh perspectives” sometimes added to the team. Before the event, team members should be well-versed in the company’s rapid improvement process and receive training. Kaizen events can last anywhere from one to seven days depending on the problem or process being addressed. Team members will be expected to let go of most operational responsibilities so they can concentrate on the Kaizen event.

Phase 2 – Implementation. To ensure that everyone on the team has a common understanding of the problem, they first define the current state of the targeted process. To identify manufacturing wastes and define the current state, there are two common methods.

  • Five Reasons. Toyota invented the practice of asking “why?” five times, and then answering each time to find the root cause. Below is an example.
    Repetition of “Why” five times
    1. Why did this machine stop working?
      The fuse blew because there was an overload.
    2. What was the overload?
      The bearing was not adequately lubricated.
    3. Why wasn’t it lubricated enough?
      The lubrication pump wasn’t pumping enough.
    4. Why wasn’t it pumping enough?
      The shaft of the pump was worn out and rattling.
    5. Why did the shaft get worn?
      There was no strainer, so metal scrap was allowed in.
  • Value stream mapping. This technique involves the flowcharting of the activities, materials flows, and other elements involved in a process or transformation. An organization can use value stream mapping to identify non-value-adding elements within a specific process. This is similar to process mapping which is often used in support of pollution prevention planning. Sometimes, value stream mapping can also be used in phase 1, to identify areas to target Kaizen events.
how to implement kaizen in manufacturing
The Principles of Lean Manufacturing Kaizen Methodology

It’s common to gather information during the Kaizen event. This includes measurements of product quality, scrap rate, source of scrap, routing of products, total product distance traveled, total square feet occupied with the necessary equipment, number and frequency of switchovers, source of bottlenecks, work-in-progress, and staffing requirements for specific tasks. Each member of the team is assigned a specific role for analysis and research. As more information becomes available, team members create value stream maps and time studies of pertinent operations (e.g., lead time, takt times).

After data has been gathered, it’s analyzed and rated to identify areas for improvement on how to implement kaizen in manufacturing. Each team member records all waste and asks what the purpose of the process is. They also ask if each step or element contributes to that goal. After identifying and measuring waste or other non-value-added activities, team members brainstorm improvements. Many ideas are tested in the shop or through “mock-ups”. The most promising ideas are chosen and implemented. Team members must observe and record the new cycle times and calculate the overall savings from operator motion, eliminated waste, square footage used, throughput time, and operator motion to fully reap the benefits of the Kaizen event.

Phase 3 – Follow-up. This is a key component of a Kaizen event. It aims to make sure that improvements are not only temporary but lasting. To document improvements, team members track key performance indicators (i.e. metrics) after the Kaizen event. The metrics include process defects rates, lead times, square footage used, movement rates, and defect rates. However, they can vary if the process is administrative. To assess the performance of the initial Kaizen event and to identify any follow-up modifications required to maintain the improvements, follow-up events may be scheduled between 30 and 90 days later. Personnel involved in the targeted process can be tapped to provide feedback and suggestions as part of this follow-up. As mentioned under the 5S method visual feedback is often recorded on scoreboards visible to all employees.

how to implement kaizen in manufacturing
The Principles of Lean Manufacturing Kaizen Methodology

How to implement lean kaizen in manufacturing principles

How to implement kaizen in manufacturing – Kaizen is a continuous improvement process that focuses on eliminating any waste from a specific process. This continuous improvement culture and process are often very similar to those found in environmental management systems (EMS), ISO 14001, and other pollution prevention programs. Kaizen approach examples have the advantage that it includes workers from different functions, who could have a role within a particular process. It strongly encourages them all to take part in waste reduction activities. Many workers who are close to a process have valuable insights and suggestions that can be used to improve it and reduce waste. However, organizations have discovered that it can be difficult to keep employees involved and committed to continuous improvement activities which are not directly related to core operations. Kaizen can be used to engage broad-based organizations in continuous improvement activities that, in part, target physical wastes and other environmental impacts.

Kaizen is a powerful tool to uncover hidden wastes and waste-generating activities and eliminate them. Kaizen is focused on waste elimination activities that optimize existing processes, and that can be done quickly without large capital investments. This increases the likelihood of achieving quick and sustained results.