Kaizen Strategy, and Implementation in Toyota

Kaizen means "improvement". Kaizen strategy calls for never-ending efforts for improvement involving everyone in the organization – managers and workers alike. As we know that Management has two major components:

1. maintenance, and

2. improvement.

The objective of the maintenance function is to maintain current technological, managerial, and operating standards. The improvement function is aimed at improving current standards.

Under the maintenance function, the management must first establish policies, rules, directives and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and then work towards ensuring that everybody follows SOP. The latter is achieved through a combination of discipline and human resource development measures.

Under the improvement function, management works continuously towards revising the current standards, once they have been mastered, and establishing higher ones. Improvement can be broken down between innovation and Kaizen. Innovation involves a drastic improvement in the existing process and requires large investments. Kaizen signifies small improvements as a result of coordinated continuous efforts by all employees.
Implementation of Kaizen Strategy: 7 Conditions

One of the most difficult aspects of introducing and implementing Kaizen strategy is assuring its continuity.

When a company introduces something new, such as quality circles, or total quality management (TQM), it experiences some initial success, but soon such success disappear like fireworks on summer night and after a while nothing is left, and management keeps looking for a new flavor of the month.

This if because the company lacks the first three most important conditions for the successful introduction and implementation of Kaizen strategy... More

Process-Oriented Thinking vs. Result-Oriented Thinking

Kaizen concentrates at improving the process rather than at achieving certain results. Such managerial attitudes and process thinking make a major difference in how an organization masters change and achieves improvements.

Quick and Easy Kaizen

Quick and Easy Kaizen (or Mini-Kaizen) is aimed at increasing productivity, quality, and worker satisfaction, all from a very grassroots level. Every company employee is encouraged to come up with ideas – however small – that could improve his/her particular job activity, job environment or any company process for that matter. The employees are also encouraged to implement their ideas as small changes can be done by the worker him or herself with very little investment of time.

Quick and easy Kaizen helps eliminate or reduce wastes, promotes personal growth of employees and the company, provides guidance for employees, and serves as a barometer of leadership. Each kaizen may be small, but the cumulative effect is tremendous.
I would like to preview the application of Kaizen in Toyota. this is the 7 principle in their production system. they are:

1. Reduced Setup Times:
All setup practices are wasteful because they add no value and they tie up labor and equipment. By organizing procedures, using carts, and training workers to do their own setups, Toyota managed to slash setup times from months to hours and sometimes even minutes.

2. Small-Lot Production: Producing things in large batches results in huge setup costs, high capital cost of high-speed dedicated machinery, larger inventories, extended lead times, and larger defect costs. Because Toyota has found the way to make setups short and inexpensive, it became possible for them to economically produce a variety of things in small quantities.

3. Employee Involvement and Empowerment:
Toyota organized their workers by forming teams and gave them the responsibility and training to do many specialized tasks. Teams are also given responsibility for housekeeping and minor equipment repair. Each team has a leader who also works as one of them on the line.

4. Quality at the Source: To eliminate product defects, they must be discovered and corrected as soon as possible. Since workers are at the best position to discover a defect and to immediately fix it, they are assigned this responsibility. If a defect cannot be readily fixed, any worker can halt the entire line by pulling a cord (called Jidoka).

5. Equipment Maintenance: Toyota operators are assigned primary responsibility for basic maintenance since they are in the best position to defect signs of malfunctions. Maintenance specialists diagnose and fix only complex problems, improve the performance of equipment, and train workers in maintenance.

6. Pull Production:
To reduce inventory holding costs and lead times, Toyota developed the pull production method wherein the quantity of work performed at each stage of the process is dictated solely by demand for materials from the immediate next stage. The Kamban scheme coordinates the flow of small containers of materials between stages. This is where the term Just-in-Time (JIT) originated.

7. Supplier Involvement: Toyota treats its suppliers as partners, as integral elements of Toyota Production System (TPS). Suppliers are trained in ways to reduce setup times, inventories, defects, machine breakdowns etc., and take responsibility to deliver their best possible parts.


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