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Introduction to Kaizen

This chapter is from the book

The Seven Wastes

The purpose of a kaizen event is actually quite simple: to remove or reduce waste. I say reduce because there is no such thing as a waste-free workplace. With what has already been mentioned in this introduction, you can probably put some of the pieces together. The concepts discussed are implemented to reduce waste, and can be done through kaizen events or any other kaizen-related activities. Let’s go over the seven wastes, as they are the focal point of all improvement initiatives and the reason this book was written.

  • Overproduction: The act of producing more than is needed, before it is needed, and faster than is necessary. Overproduction is by far the most common type of waste in an organization, and it can breed other wastes.
  • Overprocessing: This occurs when it is hard to see when something is complete. For instance, grinding, sanding, and polishing can be overdone, because a sense of completion is hard to gauge from one person to the next. Redundant effort or steps, and excessive checking and verifying, are examples of overprocessing. If operators need to unpackage parts from suppliers on the production line before installing those parts, they are overprocessing.
  • Motion: Unnecessary movement of people in the plant or in the general work area, such as looking for parts and tools, leaving the work area for any reason, and physically moving products and parts. Motion is probably the second most common waste.
  • Waiting: When manufacturing and operational process are out of synchronization, people and machines are idle.
  • Transportation: Movement of material (raw material, WIP, and finished goods).
  • Inventory: Excessive levels of raw material, WIP, and finished goods in correlation to throughput time and delivery requirements.
  • Defect/rework: Quality errors that have become costly and were not prevented.

In the course of your lean journey, you will learn of other lean philosophies and tools that can be used to reduce waste.

How you use and mix these tools depends on your culture, company, and processes. More important, they are all simply part of the lean philosophy. This book is dedicated to teaching you about kaizen and kaizen events. The first chapter will outline a company’s struggle with how lean is applied in its organization. As employees juggle multiple projects, deal with day-to-day issues, and are asked to wear many hats, finding time for lean is difficult. The chapter will then dive into the fine detail of kaizen and kaizen events, comparing the two and showing you common mistakes made in developing a kaizen program.

The concept of a company kaizen program is then described in Chapter 2. Topics will include the kaizen event steering committee and a kaizen champion who is 100 percent dedicated to continuous improvement. It will also discuss tracking and scheduling kaizen events as well as kaizen communication. This chapter will give you information on how to piece together the program that will embrace ongoing change.

The next chapter is entirely dedicated to discussing the kaizen champion. A kaizen champion is essentially the lean torchbearer and is in place to help drive all lean and kaizen initiatives. The selection or recruitment of this person should not be undertaken lightly. It is a high-profile position, and the person in it can make the difference between having a moderately successful lean journey or a very successful one.

Chapter 4 is dedicated to kaizen event preparation, including event timelines, team selection, team leader selection, team objectives, and kaizen event supplies.

The first four chapters lay the groundwork for the remainder of the book. Chapters 5 and 6 will describe how to use kaizen events for the implementation of 5S, standard work, kanban, and a new line design. They will help you see how kaizen events are used for implementation and ongoing improvements to your organization. Each kaizen event concludes with a formal presentation, called a report out, and a tour. It is important to invite as many employees in the company as possible to this report-out session so that the team can discuss their accomplishments and how they improved the performance and culture of the business. Chapter 6 will conclude with this information.

Finally, Chapter 7 is dedicated to a case study from a company called Samson Rope Technologies located in Ferndale, WA, and Lafayette, LA, which used the information from this book to begin a lean journey.

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