Lean / Kaizen

Improvement Kata – the practice of constantly creating improvement, using the “Scientific Method” (plan-do-check-act) and the “five questions”.

Kaizen is the Japanese term for gradual continuous improvement. A Kaizen event is the term for a structured activity that uses Lean principles to improve an identified process.

Before one can understand the answer to the question of “Why Lean?”, it is helpful to take a step back and analyze the general activities a business engages in on a daily basis:

Refers to activities directed at maintaining current technological, managerial and operating standards, i.e. “getting the job done”.

Refers to those activities directed at improving those standards. Improvement can be broken down into 2 subcategories of activities:

  1. Kaizen refers to small gradual improvements in the status quo as a result of ongoing efforts.
  2. Innovation refers to a drastic improvement in the status quo as a result of a large investment in new technology or equipment.

The companies least equipped to compete in the future are the ones who do nothing but maintenance, meaning there is no effort directed toward innovation or Kaizen, and change is forced upon the company by market conditions or the competition.

So, to answer the question, “Why Lean?”, the answer is this:
Lean gives your company common principles of decision-making in regards to continuous improvement activities (Kaizen) and involves everyone in the company. The best part is, unlike innovation, Lean requires no capital investment. Lean requires you to always use your collective thinking before your checkbook.

Value Stream Mapping Administrative or Manufacturing
The first formal event in a Lean Conversion is usually a Value Stream Mapping event. This involves representatives from most departments of the company and employees at all levels in the organization. Everyone has equal representation in the team. Dwight trains the team and facilitates the mapping process, but the final results are generated by the team themselves, resulting in buy-in and involvement in the process.

Specify Value
The team defines value from the perspective of the final customer. We then express value in terms of a specific product which meets the customer’s needs at a specific price and at a specific time.

Map The Value
The team identifies the value stream, the set of all specific actions required to bring a specific product through the three critical management tasks of any business: the problem-solving task, the information management task, and the physical transformation task. We then create a map of the Current State and the Future State of the value stream. Lastly we identify and categorize waste in the Current State, and eliminate it!

The Value Stream Mapping Process:

  1. Dwight meets with your Leadership Team to interview them as a group and discuss the current situation.
  2. Dwight meets with Finance/Accounting to establish key performance measures and their current values.
  3. Dwight works with the leadership team to identify which product family will yield the best overall return from improvement.
  4. We form a Project Team including members from each department.
  5. Dwight provides the Project Team with overview training focusing on a basic understanding of Lean Systems and Value Stream Mapping.
  6. The team investigates and summarizes the Current State, in both map and A3 format
  7. The team analyzes Root Causes of Waste.
  8. The team discusses the “ideal condition”
  9. We brainstorm Improvement Opportunities and Solutions.
  10. We detail Final Solutions and their impact on Operations and Finance in both map and A3 format
  11. The team presents the Assessment Report to Management.

In most cases this process is completed in five to seven days.

We Create Continuous Flow and a Pull System:

Create Flow
Make the remaining steps in the value stream flow. Eliminate functional barriers and develop a product-focussed organization that dramatically improves lead-time.

Create a Pull Demand System
Let the customer pull products as needed, eliminating the need for a sales forecast.

This process focuses on the elimination of waste defined during Value Stream Mapping and may include:

  1. “5 S” of each workstation
  2. Creation of standardized work
  3. Reduction of machine changeover time
  4. Development of kanban system(s), inventory supermarkets or other visual scheduling and demand tools
  5. Improvement in machine reliability
  6. Improvement in overall quality
  7. Development of work cells
  8. Development of a “Pacemaker” operation
  9. Leveling the production mix