Continuous improvement is based on a Japanese Concept called Kaizen, is the philosophy of continually seeking ways to improve operations. It invloves identifying benchmarks of excellent practices and instilling a sense of employee ownership of the process. The focus can be on:
- Reducing the length of time required to process requests for loans in bank
- The amount of scrap generated at a milling machine or the number of employee injuries.
- Continuous improvement can also focus on problems with customers or suppliers, such as customers who request frequent changes in shipping quantities and suppliers that to maintain high quality.
The bases of the continuous improvement philosophy are the beliefs that virtually any aspect of an operation can be improved and that the people most closely associated with an operation are in the best position to identify the changes that should be made. Consequently, employee involvement plays a big role in continuous improvement programs.
Getting Started with Continuous Improvement
Instilling a philosophy of continuous improvement in an organization may be a lengthy process, and several steps are essential to its eventual success.
- Train employees in the methods of statistical process control (SPC) and other tools for improvement quality.
- Make SPC methods a normal aspect of daily operations.
- Build work teams and employee involvement.
- Utilize problem-solving techniques within work teams.
- Develop a sense of operator ownership of the process.
Here employee involvement is central to the philosophy of continuous improvement. However, the last two steps are crucial if the philosophy is to be the part of everyday operations.A sense of operator ownership emerges when employees feel as if they own the processes and methods they use and take pride in the quality of product or service they produce. It comes from participation on work teams and in problem-solving activities, which instill in employees a feeling that they have some control over their workplace.
Source: Operations Management, Strategy and Analysis, Fourth Edition, Karajewski/Ritzman, Page151-152
There are number of websites on internet that explain the concept of 5S Housekeeing. I have collected and uploaded selected images here so that concept could be understood easily. Here they are: (more…)
A key to improving quality through TQM is linking the design of products or services to the processes that produce them. Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a means of translating customer requirements into appropriate technical requirements for each stage of product or service development and production. Bridgestone Tire and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries originated QFD in late 1960s adn early 1970s when they used quality charts that take customer requirements into account in the product design process. (more…)
Continuous improvement, based on Japanese concept called KAIZEN, is the philosophy of continually seeking ways to improve operations. It involves identifying benchmarks of excellent practice and instilling a sense of employee ownership of the process. (more…)
The Just-in-time philosophy also can be applied to the production of services. We have already discussed some of the elements of the JIT system used u a McDonald’s restaurant. In general, service environments may benefit from JIT systems if their operations are repetitive, have reasonably high volumes, and deal with tangible items such as sandwiches, mail, checks, or bills. In other words, services must involve “manufacturing-like” operations. (more…)
Quality Circle Training
Formal work groups result primarily from the organizing function of management. In other words group of people who report to a supervisor is a formal work group. The role of formal work group is very important in achieving quality and productivity at workplace. There are different team configurations that strive hard to achieve these objectives. One such use of formal work group is the quality circle, which originated in Japan. A quality circle is composed of a group of employees (usually 5 to 15 people) who are members of a single work unit, section, or department. The unit’s supervisor or manager is usually included as member of the quality circle. These employees have a common bond; they perform similar service or function by turning out a product, part of a product, or a service. Membership in a quality circle is almost always voluntary. The basic purpose of a quality circle is to discuss quality problems and to generate ideas that might help improve quality. (more…)
Here are few images taken from Toyota Motor Corporation that explain how this great organization follows principles of 5S in their factories and offices:
5S in Engine Assembly Plant
Place for everything and everything in its place
Cleanliness is the cornerstone of 5S philosophy
The 5S Culture in Office Setting
An example of perfect sorting
An aerial view of one of the many plants of Toyota Motor Corporation
Credit: Special thanks to Mr.Salman Raja and his TQM group for sending me these lovely images that remind me of my wounderful days in Toyota Motor Corporation when I stayed in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka on my training assignment.
Standardized work and KAIZEN are the means by which people make the Toyota Production System work. People are by far the most important element of the entire system. Without the support of everyone involved, no part of the system will work. No matter how ingenious the method of production or service may be, for example, if the workers do not follow rules, the entire system of production control will fall apart. (more…)
The foundation of the everyday operation in Toyota Production System is Standardized Work, standardized procedures that regulate every single work step in the entire process of producing an automobile. Concentrating on human movements, Standardized Work sets up the best work sequence for each manufacturing and assembling process. Once the most efficient sequence has been determined, it is always repeated in exactly the same way, thereby avoiding unnecessary motion and wasted effort, maintaining quality, assuring safety, and preventing damage. (more…)
Jidoka is Japanese word which is usually translated to English as automation. But at Toyota, Jidoka refers to as the ability of production lines to be stopped in the eventuality of such problems as equipment malfunctions, quality problems or work being late, either by machines which have the ability to sense abnormalities or by employees. (more…)