August 18, 2015

Six Sigma: Improve Phase : 6 Standard Work & Kaizen

Standard Work : use of policies, procedures, and work instructions , feature Kaizen strategy Kaizen Blitz continuous improvement

6. Standard Work

The operation of a plant depends on the use of policies, procedures, and work instructions. These could be referred to as standards. Maintaining and improving standards leads to improvement of the processes and plant effectiveness.

If things go wrong in gemba, the workplace, such as defects or unhappy customers, efforts are made to seek out the root causes, implement corrective action, and change work procedures. If no problems are encountered in routine daily work (called maintenance), the process is under control. The first requirement of management is to maintain the standards. With a system under control, an improvement stage canbe started. That is, management must not be satisfied with the status quo.

If there is a need to have a production increase, management must find a way to do so. One of the ways is to have operators change the way they do their jobs. The use of Kaizen activities, Kaizen Blitz, etc.,can be used to improve the process. Once the changes have been made, effortsshould commence to standardize the new procedures. (Imai, 1997)

Imai (1997) provides a discussion of the term, standards. It seems that the word standards have a very bad connotation in the Western world,versus that in Japan. In Japan, standards are used to control the process, not the workers. In the West, standards imply the use of unfair conditions on workers, such as working harder under extreme conditions, etc. In Japan, standards are used to describe a process that is the safest and easiest for the workers, and is the most cost-effective and productive way for the company. It is a balance between the two parties.

The following are some examples of standards that go beyond procedures and work instructions (Suzaki, 1993): . Yellow lines on the floor . Color coding . Production control board . Level indicators for minimum and maximum inventory . Cross-training matrices . Trouble lights

Standards have the following features:

1. Standards are the best, easiest, and safest way to do a job.

2. They preserve know-how and expertise. Years of experience and knowledge can be lost from the loss of employees.

3. They provide a way to measure performance.

4. Correct standards show the relationship between cause and effect, leading to desired effects.

5. Standards provide a basis for maintenance and improvement.

6. They provide a set of visual signs on how to do the job.

7. Standards are a basis for training.

8. They are a basis for auditing.

9. They are a means to prevent recurrence of errors. 10. Standards minimize variability. (Imai, 1997)


Kaizen is Japanese for continuous improvement (Imai, 1997). The word Kaizen is taken from the Japanese kai”change” and zen”good.” This is usually referred to as incremental improvement but on a continuous basis and involving everyone. Western management is enthralled with radical innovations. They enjoy seeing major breakthroughs, the home runs of business.

Kaizen is an umbrella term for: . Productivity . Total quality control . Zero defects . Just-in-time . Suggestion systems

Kaizen is Japanese for continuous improvement . This is usually referred to as incremental improvement but on a continuous basisand involving everyone.

The Kaizen strategy involves:

. Kaizen management: Management maintains and improves operating standards.

. Process versus results: Improvement of processes is the key to success.

. Use the PDCA/ PDSA cycles.

Quality first: Quality is of the highest priority.

. The next process is the customer

The Kaizen strategy involves:.

Kaizen management: Management maintains and improves operating standards.

. Process versus results: Improvement of processes is the key tosuccess.

. Use the PDCA/ PDSA cycles: Plan-do-check-act is the method of improvement. The check cycle refers to verification that implementation has taken place and is on target to meet goals.

. Quality first: Quality is of the highest priority.

. Speak with data: Problems are solved with hard data.

. The next process is the customer: Every step of the process will have a customer. Provide the next step with good parts or information.

The Kaizen Blitz

While most Kaizen activities are of a long term nature by numerous individuals, a different type of Kaizen strategy can occur. Thishas been termed a Kaizen event, Kaizen workshop, or Kaizen Blitz, which involves a Kaizen activity in a specific area (involving planning, training, and implementation) within a short time period. (Gee, 1996), (Laraia, 1999)

The Kaizen Blitz, using cross-functional volunteers in a 3 to 5 day period, results in a rapid workplace change on a project basis. The volunteers come from various groups, such as accounting, marketing, engineering, maintenance, quality and production. If the work involves a specific department, more team members are selected from that department.

Depending on the experience levels of the group, a 5 day Kaizen Blitz starts with 2 days of intense sessions on continuous improvement concepts. This is followed by 3 days of hands on data collection, analysis, andimplementation at the source. The last portion of the workshop truly requires deep management commitment. Plant managers must trust the decision making process as determined by the Kaizen Blitz team and facilitator.

A significant amount of time and money is involved at the implementation stage. The team makes a final presentation of theproject to the plant manager and all interested plant employees. All project team members are encouraged to take part in the presentation. Every project has the possibility of bringing immediate changes and benefits. (Gee, 1996) Laraia(1999) emphasizes that Kaizen Blitz events must occur with minimum expense and maximum use of people. The basic changes arein the process flow and methodology.

Various metrics are used to measure the outcomes of a Kaizen Blitz:

. Floor space saved

. Increased quality levels

. Line flexibility

. Safe work environment

. Improved work flow

. Reduced non-value added time

. Improvement ideas