KaizenKaizen (改善?), Japanese for "improvement" or "change for the better", refers tophilosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes inmanufacturing, engineering, supporting business processes, and management. It has beenapplied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life-coaching, government, banking, and manyother industries. When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, kaizenrefers to activities that continually improve all functions, and involves all employeesfrom the CEO to the assembly line workers. It also applies to processes, such aspurchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain. Byimproving standardized activities and processes, kaizen aims to eliminate waste (see leanmanufacturing). Kaizen was first implemented in several Japanese businesses after theSecond World War, influenced in part by American business and quality managementteachers who visited the country. It has since spread throughout the world and is nowbeing implemented in many other venues besides just business and productivity.IntroductionKaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivityimprovement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace,eliminates overly hard work ("muri"), and teaches people how to perform experiments ontheir work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste inbusiness processes. In all, the process suggests a humanized approach to workers and toincreasing productivity: "The idea is to nurture the companys human resources as muchas it is to praise and encourage participation in kaizen activities." Successfulimplementation requires "the participation of workers in the improvement." People atall levels of an organization participate in kaizen, from the CEO down to janitorial staff,as well as external stakeholders when applicable. The format for kaizen can beindividual, suggestion system, small group, or large group. At Toyota, it is usually a localimprovement within a workstation or local area and involves a small group in improvingtheir own work environment and productivity. This group is often guided through thekaizen process by a line supervisor; sometimes this is the line supervisors key role.Kaizen on a broad, cross-departmental scale in companies, generates total qualitymanagement, and frees human efforts through improving productivity using machinesand computing power.While kaizen (at Toyota) usually delivers small improvements, the culture of continualaligned small improvements and standardization yields large results in the form ofcompound productivity improvement. This philosophy differs from the "command andcontrol" improvement programs of the mid-twentieth century. Kaizen methodologyincludes making changes and monitoring results, then adjusting. Large-scale pre-planningand extensive project scheduling are replaced by smaller experiments, which can berapidly adapted as new improvements are suggested.
In modern usage, a focused kaizen that is designed to address a particular issue over thecourse of a week is referred to as a "kaizen blitz" or "kaizen event". These are limited inscope, and issues that arise from them are typically used in later blitzesHistoryAfter World War II, to help restore Japan, American occupation forces brought inAmerican experts to help with the rebuilding of Japanese industry. The CivilCommunications Section (CCS) developed a Management Training Program that taughtstatistical control methods as part of the overall material. This course was developed andtaught by Homer Sarasohn and Charles Protzman in 1949 and 1950. Sarasohnrecommended W. Edwards Deming for further training in Statistical Methods. TheEconomic and Scientific Section (ESS) group was also tasked with improving Japanesemanagement skills and Edgar McVoy is instrumental in bringing Lowell Mellen to Japanto properly install the Training Within Industry (TWI) programs in 1951. Prior to thearrival of Mellen in 1951, the ESS group had a training film done to introduce the threeTWI "J" programs (Job Instruction, Job Methods and Job Relations)- the film was titled"Improvement in 4 Steps" (Kaizen eno Yon Dankai). This is the original introduction of"Kaizen" to Japan. For the pioneering, introducing, and implementing Kaizen in Japan,the Emperor of Japan awarded the Second Order Medal of the Sacred Treasure to Dr.Deming in 1960. Consequently, the Union of Japanese Science and Engineering (JUSE)instituted the annual Deming Prizes for achievements in quality and dependability ofproducts in Japan. On October 18, 1989, JUSE awarded the Deming Prize to FloridaPower & Light Company (FPL), based in the United States, for its exceptionalaccomplishments in its process and quality control management. FPL was "the firstcompany outside of Japan to win the Deming Prize."ImplementationThe Toyota Production System is known for kaizen, where all line personnel are expectedto stop their moving production line in case of any abnormality and, along with theirsupervisor, suggest an improvement to resolve the abnormality which may initiate akaizen.
The PDCA cyclesThe cycle of kaizen activity can be defined as: • Standardize an operation • Measure the standardized operation (find cycle time and amount of in-process inventory) • Gauge measurements against requirements • Innovate to meet requirements and increase productivity • Standardize the new, improved operations • Continue cycle ad infinitumThis is also known as the Shewhart cycle, Deming cycle, or PDCA. Other techniquesused in conjunction with PDCA include 5 whys, which is a form of root cause analysis inwhich the user asks "why" to a problem and its answer five successive times. There arenormally a series of root causes stemming from one problem, and they can bevisualized using fishbone diagrams or tables.Masaaki Imai made the term famous in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japans CompetitiveSuccess.Apart from business applications of the method, both Anthony Robbins and RobertMaurer, PhD have popularized the kaizen principles into personal developmentprinciples. In his book,One Small Step Can Change Your life: The Kaizen Way and hiseight CD set, The Kaizen Way to Success, Dr. Maurer looks at both personal andprofessional success using the kaizen approachThe five main elements of kaizen • Teamwork • Personal discipline • Improved morale • Quality circles • Suggestions for improvementKanbanKanban (看板?), also spelled kamban and literally meaning "signboard" or "billboard", isa concept related to lean and just-in-time (JIT) production. According to Taiichi Ohno,the man credited with developing Just-in-time, kanban is one means through which JIT isachieved.Kanban is not an inventory control system. Rather, it is a scheduling system that tells youwhat to produce, when to produce it, and how much to produce.
The need to maintain a high rate of improvements led Toyota to devise the kanbansystem. Kanban became an effective tool to support the running of the production systemas a whole. In addition, it proved to be an excellent way for promoting improvementsbecause reducing the number of kanban in circulation highlighted problem areasOriginsThe term kanban describes an embellished wooden or metal sign often representing atrademark or seal. Kanban became an important part of the Japanese mercantile scene inthe 17th century, much like the military banners had been to the samurai. Visual puns,calligraphy and ingenious shapes were employed to indicate a trade and class of businessor tradesman.In the late 1940s, Toyota began studying supermarkets with a view to applying store andshelf-stocking techniques to the factory floor, figuring, in a supermarket, customers getwhat they need, at the needed time, and in the needed amount. Furthermore, thesupermarket only stocks what it believes it will sell, and customers only take what theyneed because future supply is assured. This led Toyota to view a process as a customer ofpreceding processes, and the preceding processes as a kind of store. The customerprocess goes to this store to get needed components, and the store restocks. As insupermarkets, originally, signboards were used to guide "shoppers" to specific restockinglocations."Kanban" uses the rate of demand to control the rate of production, passing demand fromthe end customer up through the chain of customer-store processes. In 1953, Toyotaapplied this logic in their main plant machine shopOperationAn important determinant of the success of production scheduling based on "pushing" thedemand is the quality of the demand forecast that can receive such "push."Kanban, by contrast, is part of an approach of receiving the "pull" from the demand.Therefore, the supply or production is determined according to the actual demand of thecustomers. In contexts where supply time is lengthy and demand is difficult to forecast,the best one can do is to respond quickly to observed demand. This is exactly what akanban system can help with: It is used as a demand signal that immediately propagatesthrough the supply chain. This can be used to ensure that intermediate stocks held in thesupply chain are better managed, usually smaller. Where the supply response cannot bequick enough to meet actual demand fluctuations, causing significant lost sales, thenstock building may be deemed as appropriate which can be achieved by issuing morekanban. Taiichi Ohno states that to be effective kanban must follow strict rules of use(Toyota, for example, has six simple rules, below) and that close monitoring of theserules is a never-ending task to ensure that the kanban does what is required.
 Kanban cardsKanban cards are a key component of Kanban that utilizes cards to signal the need tomove materials within a manufacturing or production facility or move materials from anoutside supplier to the production facility.The Kanban card is, in effect, a message that signals depletion of product, parts orinventory that when received will trigger the replenishment of that product, part orinventory. Consumption drives demand for more. Demand for more is signaled byKanban card. Kanban cards thus, in effect, help to create a demand-driven system. It iswidely espoused by proponents of Lean production and manufacturing that demand-driven systems lead to faster turnarounds in production and lower inventory levels,helping companies implementing such systems to be more competitive.Kanban cards, in keeping with the principles of Kanban, should simply convey the needfor more materials. A red card lying in an empty parts cart would easily convey towhomever it would concern that more parts are needed.In the last few years, Electronic Kanban systems, which send Kanban signalselectronically, have become more widespread. While this is leading to a reduction in theuse of Kanban cards in aggregate, it is not uncommon in modern Lean productionfacilities to still find widespread usage of Kanban cards. Toyotas six rules • Do not send defective products to the subsequent process • The subsequent process comes to withdraw only what is needed • Produce only the exact quantity withdrawn by the subsequent process • Level the production • Kanban is a means to fine tuning • Stabilize and rationalize the process Three-bin systemA simple example of the kanban system implementation might be a "three-bin system"for the supplied parts (where there is no in-house manufacturing) — one bin on thefactory floor (demand point), one bin in the factory store, and one bin at the suppliersstore. The bins usually have a removable card that contains the product details and otherrelevant information — the kanban card.When the bin on the factory floor becomes empty, i.e., there is demand for parts, theempty bin and kanban cards are returned to the factory store. The factory store thenreplaces the bin on the factory floor with a full bin, which also contains a kanban card.The factory store then contacts the supplier’s store and returns the now-empty bin with itskanban card. The suppliers inbound product bin with its kanban card is then deliveredinto the factory store completing the final step to the system. Thus the process will never
run out of product and could be described as a loop, providing the exact amount required,with only one spare so there will never be an oversupply. This spare bin allows for theuncertainty in supply, use and transport that are inherent in the system. The secret to agood kanban system is to calculate how many kanban cards are required for each product.Most factories using kanban use the coloured board system (Heijunka Box). This consistsof a board created especially for holding the kanban cards. Electronic kanban systemsMain article: Electronic kanbanMany manufacturers have implemented electronic kanban systems. Electronic kanbansystems, or E-Kanban systems, help to eliminate common problems such as manual entryerrors and lost cards. E-Kanban systems can be integrated into enterprise resourceplanning (ERP) systems. Integrating E-Kanban systems into ERP systems allows for real-time demand signaling across the supply chain and improved visibility. Data pulled fromE-Kanban systems can be used to optimize inventory levels by better tracking supplierlead and replenishment times
KanbanKanban is often seen as a central element of “Lean” manufacturing and is probably themost widely used type of “Pull” signaling system. Kanban stands for Kan- card, Ban-signal and as you probably guessed, is of Japanese origin.Simply described a “pull” production system controls the flow of work through a factoryby only releasing materials into production as the customer demands them i.e. only whenthey are needed. A “push” system on the other hand would release material intoproduction as customer orders are processed and material becomes available, MRP(Material Requirement Planning / Manufacturing Resource Planning) systems aretypically “push” systems. What must be made clear at this point is that Kanban is not ascheduling system but rather a production control system.The concept of Kanban cards (or other indicators) have been around for many years, infact the “two bin system” was used in the UK long before Japanese manufacturingmethodologies started to be come popular in the 1970’s. Whatever the origins, or who theinventors, a Kanban system is generally easy to understand, simple to visualise andcomparatively easy to set-up. Kanban systems are commonly used within the automotiveindustry where there is a stable demand and flow. Other such stable manufacturingenvironments will also likely benefit from a Kanban system.Many companies we visit would not describe themselves as having a stable demand ofany particular product, in fact the opposite is quite often the case, high product varietyand low volumes. In these circumstances a Kanban system may not be suitable for theentire production process but there are probably sub areas where a Kanban system of oneform or another will aid production planning and material control. Ideally the workcarried out by the operations covered by the Kanban should also be as well balanced aspossible.There are a number of different Kanban flavours or variants, this article will concentrateon the simplest forms.Product KanbanProduct Kanban is the most straightforward form of Kanban. It can take a number offorms but essentially does the same job. Production or materials ordering upstream isonly carried out when a downstream operation signals it is needed i.e. a component isused downstream and it is simply replaced. The signal may be a painted square on theground (when the square is empty of components then that is the signal to produceupstream), a card (when a component is used a card is passed upstream) or even so-calledfax-ban or e-ban. Whatever the signal the effect is the same when a set number ofcomponents are used (1 – 10,000 depending on the component) then and only then willupstream operations receive the authority to begin production or order a specified numberof that component to fill the requirement.
Emergency KanbanAn emergency Kanban allows for rush jobs to be carried out. If a job is to be rushedthrough production then it has to be given priority in some way or another. This can beachieved with different coloured Kanban cards say Red. If an operator has a stack ofcards to produce to, then the red card would be carried out first allowing some orders tobe carried out more quickly.Kanban rules 1. A Kanban signal is only issued when the component it represents is used. 2. No Kanban no part (i.e. components are only made or issued when a Kanban exists). 3. Only good components are issued. 4. No over production 5. Components are only manufactured in the order the Kanban cards are received (unless emergency Kanbans are in use). 6. Components are only manufactured / issued in the number specified by the Kanban. 7. The number of Kanban cards should be reduced over time and the problems that are encountered by doing this should be tackled as they are exposed.Calculating the number of cardsThe number of Kanbans required can be calculated as follows.Number of Kanbans = (Demand in period x Order Cycle time x Safety stock) ÷ Batch size(or container quantity)ConclusionThis short article begins to explain the basic concept of a Kanban system. Kanban is avery simple and effective production control system that can be easily introduced inmany production environments. Proper use of a “Pull” system is often seen as a large steptowards achieving true JIT (Just In Time) production.If you have further questions about Kanban or would like help in implementing a Kanbansystem in your factory then the MAS-SW can help you. Please contact our help desk(0845 608 3838) and arrange a visit with one of our manufacturing specialists.