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Kaizen and Lean Production

What is Lean Production?

Lean is about doing more with less: less time, inventory, space, labor, and money. "Lean manufacturing", a shorthand for a commitment to eliminating waste, simplifying procedures and speeding up production. Lean Manufacturing (also known as the Toyota Production System) is, in its most basic form, the systematic elimination of waste  overproduction, waiting, transportation, inventory, motion, over-processing, defective units and the implementation of the concepts of continuous flow and customer pull. Five areas drive lean manufacturing/production: cost; quality; delivery; safety; and morale. Just as mass production is recognized as the production system of the 20th century, lean production is viewed as the production system of the 21st century.
A Management Philosophy
Toyota perfected lean manufacturing in the 1990s, and now the concept is being put to use in other areas, such as organizational, distribution and logistics. Though books have been written detailing the steps to achieving lean manufacturing and many manufacturers have tried to emulate Toyota's success, few have actually done so. Why? Because they have failed to adopt lean manufacturing as a management philosophy that encompasses the entire organization. Instead, they see it only as a departmental solution.
Selected Key Terms of Lean Production
üAutonomation a form of automation in which machinery automatically inspects each item after producing it, ceasing production and notifying humans if a defect is detected.
üBaka-yoke a manufacturing technique of preventing mistakes by designing the manufacturing process, equipment, and tools so that an operation literally cannot be performed incorrectly; an attempt to perform incorrectly, as well as being prevented, is usually met with a warning signal of some sort.
ü5S refers to the five words seiri, seiton, seison, seiketsu, shitsuke. These words express principles of maintaining an effective, efficient workplace: seiri eliminating everything not required for the work being performed; seiton efficient placement and arrangement of equipment and material; seison tidiness and cleanliness; seiketsu ongoing, standardized, continually improving seiri, seiton, seison; shitsuke discipline with leadership.

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen means "improvement". Kaizen strategy calls for never-ending efforts for improvement involving everyone in the organization managers and workers alike.
Kaizen and Management
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.
Kaizen's Starting Point: Setting the Right Mindset & Business Environment
Ønot a single day should go by without an improvement being made in the company
Øcustomer-driven strategy for improvement any management activity should eventually lead to increased customer satisfaction
Øquality first, not profit first an enterprise can prosper only if customers who purchase its products or services are satisfied
Ørecognition that any corporation has problems and establishing a corporate culture where everyone can freely admit these problems and suggest improvement
Øproblem solving is seen as cross-functional systemic and collaborative approach
Øemphasis on process establishing a way of thinking oriented at improving processes, and a management system that supports people's process-oriented efforts for improvement