Kaizen is a powerful change and improvement tool. Its main usefulness is the active integration of all workers in an organization into its continuous improvement processes, gradual and orderly application processes.
While there are fundamental and cross-cutting principles, which support the Kaizen philosophy; in practice, the orderly nature of this tool requires a strong systematic component of implementation, said in other words, a method that orders the chain of improvement actions and allows its participants to be focused for effective achievement of results.
What is a Kaizen Event?
A Kaizen Event is the act of the philosophy of continuous improvement, that is, it is the chain of actions carried out by a team, whose purpose is the effective improvement of processes.
The main goal of a Kaizen event is that once each improvement process is complete, the organization can identify measurable changes in the results:
- Reduce waste (mudas).
- Reduce variability and quality problems (muras).
- Improve working conditions (reduce muris).
Duration of a Kaizen Event
To have an estimate of the average duration of a Kaizen event, it is necessary to consider two fundamental variables: process impact and implementation complexity. On a regular basis, a Kaizen event can last between 1 and 7 calendar days to be executed, something like 48 to 72 effective hours of work.
How to Run a Kaizen Event
As mentioned above, Kaizen is characterized by a gradual and orderly application. So the execution of the chain of actions that are deployed in a Kaizen event, cannot lack methodology.
KAIZEN EVENT PLANNING (BEFORE)
- Proposition of opportunities for improvement. Opportunities raised by workers or management (focused improvement).
- Choice of team leader (leadership and knowledge in Kaizen methodology).
- Member of the team with decision-making capacity, whose role is to support the team’s proposals.
- Team shaping: Between 7 and 10 interdisciplinary participants (operators, engineers, quality and safety personnel) are recommended.
- Logistics preparation: Physical spaces, project scheduling.
- Communicate to participants.
- The Definition of the Kaizen event is recorded in a standard form.
EXECUTION OF THE KAIZEN EVENT (DURING)
1. Opening of the project: Project reason, scope, presentation of the team, introduction.
2. Definition of indicators, aligned to project objectives.
3. Diagnosis of the current situation: Value stream map analysis, analysis of project variables and parameters. Analysis and first observations (measurements) of the defined indicators.
3. Visit to the area where the improvements will be made: The purpose is to broaden the perspective of the project from the critical and interdisciplinary perspective of the whole team. Contact with the staff involved in the area is fundamental, knowledge regarding the perception of the situation in the area is imperative. From this visit there must be a photographic record that will serve to expose the results of the event.
4. Identification of opportunities for improvement: The team must start identifying opportunities for improvement over productivity constraints, to do so it is necessary to do so through the standard forms “Improvement Opportunity Cards” or “TPM Cards”. Everything must be searched.
It is important that any opportunity for improvement detected is immediately classified, usually by its degree of criticality (A, B or C). A-rated ideas/opportunities relate to an immediate application (1 to 4 days); type B, (1 to 2 weeks), and type C, no more than 2 months. Any opportunity found that compromises the safety of the area and employees should be considered to be classified as type A, and if possible and required, a containment measure (symptomatic action) should be applied.
Once opportunities for improvement are found, the opportunity card is staged, these regularly come double, separated by charcoal paper, allowing you to have a copy. One of the cards will be at the place where the opportunity is located and the other will be given to the team to be attached to the kaizen activity itinerary.
POST-OPPORTUNITY IDENTIFICATION DEVELOPMENT
The basis of the next stage will be the Kaizen activity itinerary, in it not only must record the actions required according to the opportunities detected, but an order must be established according to its priority.
The action plans for each detected opportunity can be addressed through a Lean Manufacturing tool, each of which will have a guide methodology of development.
The Kaizen activity itinerary must be in a visible and up-to-date location at all times, so that the entire team can track the progress of the Kaizen event.
CLOSING THE KAIZEN EVENT
For the closing activity, an exhibition with very clear content should be prepared and explicitly addressing the following points:
- Initial situation: What did the equipment find?
- Actions taken: What did the team do to improve the initial situation?
For this presentation, the indicators established at the opening of the Kaizen event should be used, so that the degree of improvement achieved by the project can be quantified in a very objective way.
In addition, a visual record of improvements, actions and of course the initial situation should be displayed.
Where possible, instructions, lessons (LUPs) and procedures should be prepared to allow for continuity of improvements.
After the Kaizen event is terminated, and for four weeks, improvements are tracked, so that operators who own the process are monitored and supported so that they can be maintained continuously.