What is a Kaizen event?

When a business implements Kaizen, there is a choice between implementing daily Kaizen and holding Kaizen events, or a combination of both. It is key to understand the differences between both to choose what may be right for your facility. Kaizen events are scheduled to take place during a specific set amount of time, often ranging between a few hours up to a couple weeks. It is important these events have scheduled end dates where progress will be measured. These events are single, coordinated, occurrences that are designed to make an improvement of some kind over a set period of time. Unlike daily Kaizen, Kaizen events are not continuous efforts and have a specific start and end date.

The first step to holding a Kaizen event is planning it. The problem or waste that is to be addressed by this event will need to be identified as well as the scope of the event. It will be crucial to ensure the scope is not too small and not too large, but rather find a happy medium. Kaizen events are not meant to solve all the problems a facility may have, and they should not be carried out to perform improvements that are quick and can usually be done on the fly.

An event team should then be chosen to participate in the Kaizen event. These teams are relatively small and, in most cases, consist of somewhere between six and ten members. It is important these teams are well rounded and made up of affected or interested parties. This includes workers who will be directly impacted, workers from different departments, subject matter experts, and leadership in the event group should be limited.

A Kaizen event will often follow phases that are similar to the phases in the PDCA cycle. The phases include:

  • Establishing a baseline by gathering relevant information.
  • Designing a proposed solution and looking for non-value-adding aspects that could be eliminated (this will usually be the bulk of a Kaizen event).
  • Testing a solution through simulations, the use of real machines, etc.
  • Implement changes once the designed solution is tweaked to produce desirable results. This may include physical changes and the implementation of new processes.

After a Kaizen event, data and information should be gathered so the team can decide whether or not the problem was effectively addressed and if the Kaizen event was successful.

 

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Additional Resources

Kaizen Guide
 
Lean Manufacturing Powerpoint
 
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