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What is Kaizen ? | Meaning, Principles, Types, Steps, Advantages & Disadvantages


What is Kaizen ?

Kaizen means "change for the better". It is Japanese terminology. It could also be referred to as "continuous improvement". The word 'Kaizen' consists of lots of activities which are :
  • Creating a team for making the workplace better to work in.
  • Re-modelling the daily process followed in the firm.
  • Establishing customer's satisfaction by making the job more satisfying and also ensuring safety.
Kaizen is a regular activity which not only consists of simple productivity advancement but also of removing difficult work and helping the employees in conducting the experiments on the work assigned to them by the help of scientific methods and also helps them in knowing and removing the waste from the business work.

This is a Japanese technique which has been used by Japanese firms for more than twenty years. In Japanese industries like electronics, precision, machinery and automobiles, this technology is commonly practiced. It is basically used for reducing cost at the time of product planning and designing. The basic aim of Kaizen is to minimize current cost by the help of various advanced techniques like value engineering and functional analysis of each manufacturing ability.

Principles of Kaizen 

The Kaizen principles are as follows :
  1. Human resources are very useful assets of the company Teamwork helps in giving better outcome and helps. the employees to get the feeling of achievement as it is said that dozen beads are better than one.
  2. All the employees should be ready for any advancement and various developments. The plans from workers, managers, suppliers and customers will result in new, improved and simple methods of doing the work.
  3. The small changes done are simpler to follow than overall changes as the employees can easily follow small changes. The The small changes will show in what manner the real outcome gets rear affected from small advancements.
  4. The use of traditional methods may be easy but it is not very profitable. All the employees of the company should welcome the changes which are comp acceptable and important for the growth of the company.
  5. The waste will be less if the work is done correctly in the first time and the profit will also increase if the waste is reduced.
  6. The errors should be corrected at once when they arise. Equipment breakdown and failures are the outcomes of not solving the small errors when they arise.

Types of Kaizen

Kaizen is categorized into different categories. 4 types of Kaizen are as follows :

1) High-Impact Kaizen : 
It is referred to as making an improvement in the overall production area of the factory. For example, in an identified shop's floor department, selecting a final assembly line, a welding or brazing department and so on. There is a requirement of extensive training and implementation. It is basically intended for re methodising and re-organizing the space involved and implementing the main principles of Lean Manufacturing, by decreasing space need, considerably changing the work sequences, and also lowering the work-in-process inventory.
This type of Kaizen needs the involvement of all the support functions which includes quality assurance, production control, scheduling, purchasing and also accounting and sales. Sometimes, a proper plan of action needs the overall decentralization of the department and introducing the equipment and operator at point of-use.

2) Training and Implementation Kaizen : 
It is made for getting the information of the whole workforce for the overall period of time. It is a small type of high-impact Kaizen. It also has a second aim known as "implementation", which means making an important and significant change in the shop floor. In this type of Kaizen, a particular area is chosen and improvement is done in it till it is near completion. Afterwards, the team assembles again and get the audit of changes done and checks the work which could not be completed during the working of the original event.

3) Problem-Resolution Kaizen : 
It helps to adjust a situation which may affect amount, value or the capability to accomplish the need of the customers. It is in the areas in which there is huge effect and other types of Kaizen are being used. The basic aim is to solve the recurring production problems and also to practice it within the limit of good Lean Manufacturing principles. As they remain a useful change to the factory as the factory may change from batch production to pull production.

4) Sustaining Kaizen : 
It refers to having cumulative improvements in an area which has high-impact and where Kaizen has been used earlier. The Kaizen events are shorter in length and also include human resources involved in the particular area (i.e., the production supervisor, varies production employees, and select sustaining engineering personnel).

Steps of Kaizen

Following are the steps in Kaizen programme or Kaizen Process :

Steps in Kaizen Programme

1) Develop an Understanding of the Processes :
As stated by Imai, there are three basic principles which are included in Kaizen for satisfying the customers. These are given as under :
  • An on-going advancement in the quality assurance system to fulfill the needs of the customer.
  • An on-going advancement in the cost management system which will help in delivering the product or service at a reasonable price to the customer. 
  • An on-going advancement in the delivery. system for meeting the need of the customer on time. 
They are altogether referred as Quality, Cost and Delivery (QCD).

2) Identify Corporate Objectives : 
The top management commitment plays a very important role in Kaizen. According to Imai, "Without that, you better forget the whole thing".
Kaizen is very helpful method for attaining business objectives. The management of the company should practice SWOT analysis in the working of the company. The entire support. system such as present system and structure needs to be checked for achieving cross functional goals. A proper planning of all the important changes in the field like organisation, planning and control and personnel practices should be done. The objectives should be framed for next five years and all the obligations should be recognized and shared. A statement of obligation by senior management to all the cross functional goals as quality and cost, to the resourcing of the programme and also checking its development will show the obligation to Kaizen as a part of corporate strategy.

3) Plan the Kaizen Programme : 
A properly planned programme of Kaizen is divided into three segments which are as follows: 

i) Management-Oriented : 
This type of Kaizen basically aims at the most important strategic issues, processes and systems.

ii) Group-Oriented : 
It basically aims at the small-group of activities which may take help of statistical tools for resolving the problems.

iii) Individual-Oriented : 
They are basically related to the assumption that every employee can work in an intelligent manner and help in the advancement process. Different parts need certain considerations as they use different management and personal skills.

4) Develop a Training Plan : 
The necessity of training the employees should be checked. Proper information about the on-going advancement programmes about the cross-functional working and problem-solving technique should be given to the employees. The employees should work with the training department or consultants for making à training plan.

5) Allocate Resources : 
The top level of management must be ready for assigning resources. They should appoint a director for managing the project and a manager is required for executing the plan. All the employees should be trained and monetary and non-monetary resources should be given to them for providing support.

6) Communicate with Employees : 
In this process, the representatives from all the departments and functions should be involved in the planning activity. The important part of Kaizen for accepting changes is cultural changes, participation of employees and ownership. Meetings, briefing sessions and newsletters should be organised for achieving the targets of Kaizen.

7) Focus Training and Development of the 4 Ps of Quality : 
The different four P's are :

i) Process Control : 
The management with the help of process control makes fair and dependable performance level.
  • Recognize the changes and the reasons.
  • Work with assignable reasons.
  • Work with random changes.
  • Do the process design reviews according to the necessity of the range of analytical. and quality advancement techniques - flowcharts, cause-and-effects (or fish-bone) diagrams, process models. audits and process capability studies.

ii) Problem Identification : 
A problem can be identified with the help various techniques such as quality system's audits, customer complaint analysis, cost of quality studies, bench-marking. departmental purpose analysis and customer and employee surveys. If the cause of process variation is not known then it will lead to wrong identification of problem.

iii) Problem Elimination : 
The various problem solving tools such as Pareto diagrams, cause and-effect diagrams, histograms, control charts and scatter diagrams should be used accurately to earn profit for the firm. All the solutions should be checked to see their working and it also helps in preventing any kind of problem arising from it. The solution should be implemented only after having proper knowledge about the dynamics of change.

iv) Permanence : 
Improvement is an on-going process. The employees need to make sure that they are committed to the changes. which have already been made and also they should continuously improve it. The various kinds of methods such as policy deployment, TQM review and quality function development should be used. The top managers should be a part of every kind of quality improvement group meetings and also try to maintain the growth and obligation of the company.

8) Set up a Suggestion Scheme : 
As given in individual-oriented Kaizen, the involvement of employees is an important part of the industry. The suggestion scheme helps in increasing the contribution of the employees. The various suggestions given by the employees should be taken and the employees should also be given. recognition and rewards according to pre-decided methods.

9) Review : 
The Kaizen program should be reviewed. The process-oriented cultural changes. should be measured. All the achievements should be recognized and further training should be given.

Advantages of Kaizen

The advantages/benefits of Kaizen are as follows :

1) Continuous Inspection : 
By the execution of Kaizen, all departments of the company are continuously inspected.

2) Eliminate Waste : 
By the help of Kaizen, there is reduction in the generation of waste in inventory, waiting times, transportation, worker motion, employee skills, over-production, excess quality and in process. Kaizen helps in reducing waste in the overall organisation and also helps in reducing costs and increasing efficiency. The product and service quality is upgraded and is also inspected on the regular basis.

3) Increase Efficiency and productivity : 
Kaizen helps in advancing the space utilization, product quality. of capital, communications, use production capacity and employee retention. It also assists in increasing productivity as the workers are also included in the decision-making process and they give their suggestions also.

4) Provides Immediate Results : 
It helps in giving fast outcomes. Kaizen basically focuses on innovating investments which help in solving lots of small problems instead of focusing on large and capital intensive advancements.

5) Improve Processes : 
The large capital projects need lots of changes. Kaizen also helps in upgrading the procedure of capital process. As Kaizen is a continuous process which helps in continuously making small changes, it also helps in improving the process and in reducing the waste.

6) Employee Satisfaction : 
Kaizen assists in upgrading the satisfaction of the employees by taking the suggestions for improvement from the workers by involving them in the processes and system. It will help in increasing the employee's sense of worth and job satisfaction by the implications of new ideas.

7) Improved Safety : 
Kaizen helps in improving safety at the working place. It is done with the help of implemented ideas which assists in cleaning the workplace of the employees which in turn helps them in controlling equipment's and processes. The safety training helps the management and staff in reducing the accident related injuries which give rise to decrease in production and the employees taking break to handle the emergencies.

Disadvantages of Kaizen 

The various disadvantages of Kaizen are :

1) Difficult to Return to Previous Management Systems : 
Kaizen bring permanent change to the management system. If these changes are implemented, it is very difficult to return to previous management system even if the demand or need arise. It is difficult to be followed in other cultures as it is closely associated with Japanese culture.

2) Increase Burden on Lower Level Management : 
Kaizen increases the work load on the lower level of management as they are present on the shop-floor in assisting the implementation of the new plans. They also have to work for long hours for finishing their regular administration work.

3) Lead to Diminishing Returns : 
Due to on-going improvement, the basic focus is on the small details which lead to lowering the returns even with the same amount of inputs.

4) Difficult to Implement : 
The company needs to do complete changes in their methods and strategies in Kaizen. Hence they are not easy and give rise to many problems if the management is not ready for the changes. They should also work in a positive and accessible manner for implementing Kaizen correctly. So, it is very important for the company to be ready for the changes.

5) Difficult to Maintain : 
The other reason for failure of Kaizen is that the plans at first seem to be very new and inspirational but if the employees and the company do not work properly, then the plans may fail and all the changes may return back to the previous one.

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