The Kaizen method continues to be studied and applied today in industries around the world. Initiated in Japan, it has since attracted Western companies with its unique approach to production and management. Dedicated to continuous improvement, the Kaizen system is one of the foundations of lean manufacturing. It proposes progressive changes at all levels of the organization to ensure real management of operational performance.
- The need to improve, to exist
- Continuous improvement for operational performance
- Kaizen as a solution against resistance to change
- Measuring the results of the Kaizen approach
Kaizen: because stagnating means retreating
In the current highly competitive environment, contenting yourself with the status quo is tantamount to condemning your company to decline. Not improving is necessarily losing ground to competitors who are trying to develop their capacities at different levels.
The Kaizen method, which advocates continuous improvement, responds to this need for continuous evolution. Moreover, more than a method, it is associated with a true corporate culture and aims, in particular, to bring a completely different mentality, from decision-making positions to the workshops.
Small and regular steps for sustained industrial performance
In a company organized according to the principles of Kaizen, changes are made in small doses and at a continuous pace (daily). Improvement operations must also be simple, inexpensive and tangible. This is a diametrically opposed approach to those based on large-scale revisions, rapid and fundamental disruptions that can present significant risks (difficulty of acceptance and assimilation by employees in particular).
The Kaizen method is also characterized by the fact that it involves all the company’s stakeholders. Each employee is encouraged to analyze his or her own workstation and identify opportunities for improvement. Motivation and commitment are indeed one of the most important aspects of the Kaizen continuous improvement principle.
Overall, the latter is at the service of industrial performance by:
- Improving quality and production times
- Optimizing flows
- Enhancing productivity
- Improving working conditions
The best definition of this method is that of Masaaki Imai, founder of the Kaizen Institute: “Everyday improvement, everybody improvement and everywhere improvement”.
An effective response to resistance to change?
The phenomenon of resistance to change exists everywhere and in all sectors. Managers are often confronted with them and the implementation of their improvement measures is therefore complex, or even impossible in some cases.
One of the advantages of the Kaizen approach is that the changes it invites are better accepted by staff, because of their progressive and gentle nature. This is in line with the idea that employees feel more involved in the project. And teams that are more concerned about the development of their company are, de facto, more efficient.
Evaluate the effectiveness of changes
Since Kaizen-type improvements are of a smaller scale, their benefits only appear after a certain time. It is a process that requires patience and yet its effectiveness is measurable.
How do you know if the changes made have been successful and made the company more efficient? By monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs). There is a variety of them and their choice depends on the specificities of the activity, as well as the objectives to be achieved: scrap rate, number of units produced, rates, cycles, downtime…
Use a tool for continuous improvement of operational performance
At Picomto, we develop digital work instruction software that also participates in the process of continuous improvement in factories by facilitating data collection in workshops. Operators help feed the processes to establish action plans and thus promote operational excellence and productivity. It is also used to implement a visual management approach and drive operational performance for the optimization and improvement of performance and boost the competitiveness of the company in the context of the industry of the future where digitization is the key word.
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