Kaizen and Lean Manufacturing

Kaizen and Lean Manufacturing

The goals of Lean manufacturing are to reduce waste, improve quality, and ultimately please the customer. The continuous improvement of kaizen helps Lean organizations achieve these goals.

Implementing Lean Tools and Concepts

Lean manufacturing highlights the importance of eliminating waste, which is defined as unnecessary work that does not add value for the customer.

This waste is broken down into eight categories:

Understanding the Eight Categories of Waste

  • Waiting Time
  • Extra Motion
  • Excess Inventory
  • Extra Processing
  • Over-production
  • Defects
  • Unnecessary Transportation
  • Unutilized Talents

In Lean organizations, everyone is trained to look out for these types of waste. Some of them may be more obvious than others, but with time it becomes easier to see these wastes in the workplace.

Waste should be eliminated because it doesn't add value for the end customer, meaning that the customer isn't willing to pay for it.
Businesses should focus on making changes to processes and products that will make customers happy. Customers are pleased when they receive what they want, when they want it, and in desired quantities.

Put another way, customers are concerned about: Quality - Cost - Delivery

Key Factors for Customer Satisfaction: Quality, Cost, and Delivery

  • Quality means the product or service measures up. It meets the expectations of the customer in terms of appearance, materials used, longevity, durability, ease of use, etc.
  • Cost is the price point. Even if a customer likes a product, he won't buy it if it costs too much. This means businesses must produce the product in such a way that they can charge a price the customer is willing to pay.
  • Delivery means the customer gets the product or service when he or she wants it and in the desired amount.

Because the end goal of a Lean business is to please customers, businesses must focus on continuously improving quality, cost, and delivery. Kaizen makes this improvement possible. By focusing on ways to continuously improve the workplace, employees and employers can improve these key factors that matter to customers.

Kaizen and its Relationship with Other Lean Tools

In addition to helping achieve Lean manufacturing goals, kaizen is connected to many other Lean concepts. Kaizen is often considered an umbrella term under which other Lean tools and concepts fall. This is because many activities in a Lean workplace - whether the workplace is a manufacturing or non-manufacturing environment - helps facilitate improvements. Just-in-time, jidoka, 3P, 5S, gemba, and other Lean tools can aid with the continuous improvement that is kaizen.

Combine with Other Lean Tools

Many other Lean methods fall under kaizen. Some of these methods may complement kaizen efforts.

Exploring the Benefits of 5S in Lean Manufacturing

5S: 5S is a systematic approach to workplace organization. 5S breaks the process of organizing, cleaning, and maintaining a space into five parts.

The 5 parts of 5S are:
  • Sort
  • Set in order
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

Just-In-Time (JIT) as a Complementary Tool to Kaizen

Just-In-Time: A second tool that may be complimentary to kaizen is just-in-time (JIT). Just-in-time is a method for "pulling" production with customer demand instead of pushing it with forecasting. JIT is governed by kanban, a system of signals that tell people when to start producing products. This is a tool that is utilized by the Toyota Motor Company in their Toyota Production System (TPS).

Just-In-Time is based on the following four concepts:

  • Heijunka - In just-in-time needed parts are only provided when they are required. This is to keep inventory costs low. Heijunka is the eradication of disproportion in a workload or Mura. Heijunka also eradicates overstrained workloads that can develop into quality or safety issues. This is also known as Muri. Muri and Mura are both considered waste.
  • Elimination of waste - Waste is also known as Muda. Muda can be described as all things that are not useful. These things do not add value.
  • Takt time - The rate or speed of customer demand is Takt. Takt time describes the cycle of work that handles the demand of one customer. The cycle of work should be in sync with the demand of the customer so that there is no over or underproduction. The flow rate of how much work can be completed is calculated by Takt time. When Takt time is used properly, it will remove inefficiency caused by time delays to overproduction.
  • Kanban - For Kanban to work, it is vital that all the correct items are in the correct place at the correct period. The Toyota Production System (TPC) uses an item called the kanban card. The Kanban card is a very visible item used to request parts only as they are needed. This keeps the assembly area uncluttered of parts that are not yet needed. When a worker sees that they are almost out of parts, they use the kanban card to request delivery of more parts.

Free E-Book

5S Guide

Learn how simple organizational strategy can transform your business.


Free E-Book

Lean Manufacturing

Minimize waste and maximize efficiency with our step-by-step guide.

Other FREE Resources:

Helpful Resources