Most manufacturers would assume their organization follows a continuous improvement approach, where they improve their products, services and processes in efforts to sustain success. However, according to the Kaizen/Lean Philosophy, Continuous Improvement is much more complex. A continuous improvement process is one of ongoing incremental improvement, where a business continues normal business activities while constantly seeking out new opportunities to add value to their products, services and processes, even when it “isn’t needed”.
In the world of manufacturing, there are multiple factors in the macro and microenvironment which could unexpectedly affect products, services or processes. Continuous Improvement identifies opportunities and executes changes accordingly, formulated to prepare for these unconditional factors and ensure operational processes are never vulnerable to “breaking”.
According to Kaizen, continuous quality improvement accomplishes major change over time and is driven by the input of employees. By practicing Continuous Improvement, companies learn internally how to pinpoint areas of their business where value is added, where value is absent, and how to dispose of invaluable waste. Manufacturers can learn and adopt the continuous improvement process through training programs and scheduled events known as “Kaizen Events”, where traditional Lean manufacturing tools are improved upon and company goals are made specific and measurable.
The Benefits of Kaizen
A manufacturer who adopts the continuous improvement approach will see immeasurable benefits, including:
· Increased productivity and quality
· Lowered costs
· Decreased delivery time
· Improved employee satisfaction/morale
· Lowered employee turnover rate
The overall effectiveness of the Kaizen philosophy heavily relies on a facility’s management team. Management must establish an environment which recognizes employees as valuable assets for continuous improvement and not only reinforce/support their contribution, but require it! Under Kaizen, all employees are responsible for identifying the gaps and inefficiencies at every functional level and suggesting where improvements can be made.
Continuous Improvement is not a destination, but a journey of ongoing processes. Manufacturers who practice Lean manufacturing/Kaizen philosophy can see “breakthrough” improvements within their organization on a daily basis.
If you’re a manufacturer who is looking to become more efficient, productive and globally competitive, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center can assist you. Click here for a list of our services or contact us at 888.414.6682 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.