One of the biggest names in manufacturing and production is Kaizen. This is the original lean method that Toyota developed to create change, and from its inception until today has grown, evolved and become the mainstay for all optimized and lean environments.
Kaizen is made up of two Japanese words that translate into “good change” or “improvement,” Over time Kaizen has come to mean “continuous improvement.”
At the core of Kaizen is one philosophy made of ten principles and these ten principles are:
- Let go of assumptions.
- Be proactive about solving problems.
- Don’t accept the status quo.
- Let go of perfectionism and adopt an iterative, adaptive change.
- Look for solutions as you find mistakes.
- Create a group and individual contribution empowered environment
- Don’t accept the obvious issue; instead, ask “why” five times to get to the root cause.
- Cull information and opinions from multiple people.
- Use creativity to find low-cost, small improvements.
- Never stop improving.
Note that the seventh principle leads to the 5S, which are the core of a visual lean process. The Kaizen 5S framework is a part of the entire system, and they focus on creating visual order, organization, cleanliness, and standardization. The 5S are:
- Seiri/Sort (organize); Separate necessary workplace items from unnecessary ones and remove unnecessary items.
- Seiton/Set in order (create orderliness); Arrange items to allow for easy access in the way that makes the most sense for work.
- Seiso/Shine (cleanliness); Keep the workspace clean and tidy.
- Seiketsu/Standardize (standardized cleaning); Systematize workplace cleanup best practices.
- Shitsuke/Sustain (discipline); Maintain a constant 5S process.
The upKaizen Method
upKaizen uses the Kaizen philosophy at its core, and we manage all our aspects of supply chain and production planning based on the Kaizen principles and the 5S approach. What we do is apply the Kaizen method in all our optimization services.
Kaizen in Supply Chain involves taking the lean principle out from the standard production planning setting and shifting it to the warehouse, the logistics, and the procurement processes. This is not as simple as it sounds, since many of the supply chain processes are virtual or communicative, and not physical, such as machining or assembling components.
The easiest and most common setting for Kaizen in a supply chain is found in the warehouse and is used in inventory control starting from the source to the customer.
upKaizen methods for applying Kaizen
Based on the 10 principles of Kaizen, this is how we approach the implementation of Kaizen through our methodology.
Let go of assumptions.
We never assume anything and base all our actions on the client’s specific demands
Be proactive about solving problems.
We constantly communicate and discuss all actions, activates and ideas with our clients and suppliers and provide solutions to issues as an ongoing service.
Don’t accept the status quo.
While we optimize the system, we empower it constantly flow, not stopping the system, so that the optimization process will improve the system incrementally over the project time frame.
Let go of perfectionism and adopt an iterative, adaptive change.
At upKaizen do not go for a comprehensive solution package, but create the Utopian goal with milestones set along the path to the ever vanishing horizon. The utopian goal is never attainable since there is no such thing as perfection in a constantly evolving process. That is why we make change incrementally, constantly improving and optimizing the system.
Look for solutions as you find mistakes.
We prefer to learn before the mistake and mitigate risk. However, we always accept that problems arise and solutions must be reached immediately that can be used in the future. Our learning curve is high, and our risk mitigation process is deep.
Create a group and individual contribution empowered environment
We empower our clients to adopt a pro-active inter-employee communication process where everyone is asked to participate actively.
Don’t accept the obvious issue; instead, ask “why” five times to get to the root cause.
We employ the 5S and use it as a daily process for constantly seeking ways to improve systems that appear “perfect” as well as handle issues that arise from daily routine activities.
Cull information and opinions from multiple people.
We collect and process all the data from multiple sources, including every individual that is involved directly or indirectly with the processes being optimized.
Use creativity to find low-cost, small improvements.
We do not just rely on algorithms; we incorporate individualism and innovative thought to create solutions that make incremental improvements within the overall project infrastructure.
Never stop improving.
We never leave our client with a “fait acompli,” we instill a need for constant change and help our clients impellent and integrate a “change culture” for reducing waste.