Kaizen Process

Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning “continuous improvement“.  In the workplace, Kaizen refers to procedures that continually improve the everyday functionality of a manufacturer.  This involves all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers.  It is also applicable to administrative departments such as sales and purchasing, engineering and production management.

LEM Products, Inc. utilizes Kaizen throughout the company. For LEM, Kaizen is a daily process aimed at eliminating waste, improving efficiency, productivity and, ultimately, profitability.

kaizen concepts

The basic methodology of Kaizen comprises making changes, monitoring the results, then, adjusting standard procedures to incorporate the changes.  In example:
1) An operation or activity is standardized;  2) The operation is monitored and measured for the time and the amount of product involved;  3) The measurements are then compared against the requirements of the process;  4)  Adjust are made as necessary to meet the requirements and increase productivity;  5)  The adjusted procedure is then standardized;  6) The cycle is routinely continued.

Continuous Improvement doesn’t happen without an organized environment from which to implement the Kaizen practices. Kaizen uses a series of steps to maintain an orderly workplace. It is called, “5S”. The 5 S’s are as follows:
Sort: – Sort out what is needed and not needed in work areas using a Red Tag procedure to clearly mark items for removal.
Straighten: Organize tools and necessary items to be ready to use. Identify where tools are located with shadow boards so all employees can easily find them and return them. A place for everything and everything in its place!
Shine: Clean the workplace and equipment regularly.
Standardize: Perform the first three S’s regularly.
Sustain: Maintain these standards to foster daily improvement.

Finding the areas in need of improvement means knowing how to spot waste and identify the problems that cause the waste. The Kaizen process for this is called a Gemba, which is Japanese for crime scene. For a manufacturer utilizing Kaizen, this involves a daily investigation of quality issues in order to spot and eliminate waste in manufacturing and business processes. When an issue is discovered, the “5 Why” process is applied. This means asking the question, “Why did this happen?” and continuing to ask why to get to the root cause of the problem. The answer should be obtained within 5 queries or less.

Waste is identified in 7 types:
1) Correction: Quality issues and errors that result in defective product.
2) Overproduction: Making product before it is required.
3) Movement of material: Any excessive and unnecessary movement to get products from one process to the next.
4) Motion: The unnecessary movement of people in the workplace such as looking for tools, leaving a workstation, stretching, etc.
5) Waiting: Down-time among workers and machinery due to a lack of coordination between manufacturing and operational procedures that leaves products in WIP before they are needed for the next process.
6) Inventory: Excess materials (raw, WIP and finished goods) that are not actively flowing through a process.
7) Processing: Using excessive techniques and processes beyond what is essential to complete the product.

The Kaizen process continues to enable LEM to significantly reduce waste and operate as a LEAN manufacturer, resulting in quality products and on-time delivery.