What is Kaizen?
Kaizen is a philosophy that was developed in Japan to improve the shop floor’s efficiency and processes. Kaizen is also known as “continuous improvement” because once the process has been implemented it is not simply forgotten, but continually worked on and improved upon. Those using the philosophy of Kaizen strive to create an engaging culture for each individual’s talents in order to create a powerful manufacturing system that is constantly improving.
Kaizen is one part philosophy, and one part action plan. It becomes a philosophy because it should be engrained as a way of thinking, rather than just movements that are run through in the action plan. Workers should always be thinking about a way they can improve their current processes to make them more efficient.
How to Use Kaizen
- Adopt the Kaizen Philosophy
Easily said, but not easily done. The manufacturing floor needs to adopt the Kaizen philosophy fully, and that means creating a method of purpose towards constant improvement in both products and services. Build the product with quality in the first place and constantly improve on it, which will minimize the overall total cost.
- Institute Training
This doesn’t just mean training only for those on the shop floor. You should institute training across the board, including for leadership. The leadership should be trained on how to assist those on the shop floor to do their jobs better, not to hand out orders.
- Remove Barriers
Remove any barriers that can hinder someone from doing their job. Whether that is because of management rules or not having the correct equipment, you cannot expect continuous improvement if the workers are not given the correct tools to complete their job.
- Continuing Education
Continuously improving and continuously finding new ways to become efficient means continuing education throughout the company. There are new technologies and new methods of being efficient that are created every day. What worked in the 1990’s won’t work today. What worked last year, even, may not work today. By continuously educating your workers on the newest thought leadership you can continue to be the most efficient.
Kaizen is all about staying on top of the best methods to improve efficiency and quality. This thought process is assumed to lower costs in the long run because you will have loyal customers that continue to buy and you’re creating a quality product that will unlikely be recalled or returned.