By Steve Hudgik
Kaizen involves every employee in making change—in most cases small, incremental changes. It focuses on identifying problems at their source, solving them at their source, and changing standards to ensure the problem stays solved. It's not unusual for Kaizen to result in 25 to 30 suggestions per employee, per year, and to have over 90% of those implemented.
For example, Toyota is well-known as one of the leaders in using Kaizen. In 1999 at one U.S. plant, 7,000 Toyota employees submitted over 75,000 suggestions, of which 99% were implemented.
These continual small improvements add up to major benefits. They result in improved productivity, improved quality, better safety, faster delivery, lower costs, and greater customer satisfaction. On top of these benefits to the company, employees working in Kaizen-based companies generally find work to be easier and more enjoyable—resulting in higher employee moral and job satisfaction, and lower turn-over.
With every employee looking for ways to make improvements, you can expect results such as:
Kaizen Reduces Waste in areas such as inventory, waiting times, transportation, worker motion, employee skills, over production, excess quality and in processes.
Kaizen Improves space utilization, product quality, use of capital, communications, production capacity and employee retention.
Kaizen Provides immediate results. Instead of focusing on large, capital intensive improvements, Kaizen focuses on creative investments that continually solve large numbers of small problems. Large, capital projects and major changes will still be needed, and Kaizen will also improve the capital projects process, but the real power of Kaizen is in the on-going process of continually making small improvements that improve processes and reduce waste.
Learn how Fleetwood benefited from implementing Kaizen in this article reprinted from Quality Digest. And read about how Sony, in Terra Haute, Indiana, used Kaizen to dramatically improve production in an article reprinted from Manufacturing & Technology News.
More information about Kaizen: