Kaizen is a Japanese word. It is basically composed of two words “KAI” means change and “ZEN” means better. In other words it means change for betterment or improvement.
Kaizen is a philosophy that defines management’s role in continuously encouraging and implementing small improvements involving everyone. It is the process of continuous improvement in small increments that make the process more efficient, effective, under control, and adaptable.
Improvements are usually accomplished at little or no expense, without sophisticated techniques or expensive equipments.
It focuses on simplification by breaking down complex processes into their sub-processes and then improving them.
The Kaizen improvement focuses on the use of:
- Value-added and non-value-added work activities.
- Muda, which refers to seven classes of waste-overproduction, delay, transportation, processing,inventory, wasted motion, and defective parts.
- Principles of motion study and use of cell technology.
- Principles of material handling and use of one-piece flow.
- Documentation of standard operating procedures.
- The five S’s for workplace organization. (Already explained in Lean Production Post)
- Visual management by means of visual displays that everyone in the plant can use for better communications.
- Just-in-time principles to produce only the units in the right quantities, at the right time, and with right resources.
- Poka-yoke to prevent or detect errors.
- Team dynamics, which include problem solving, communication skills, and conflict resolution.
Kaizen relies heavily on a culture that encourages suggestions by operators who continually try to incrementally improve their job or process.