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Kaizen: A Simple And Powerful Philosophy

4068 words - 17 pages

INSY 6808 – Lean Production – Auburn University |
A Simple and Powerful Philosophy |

Justin Willette

Table of Contents


The Meaning of Kaizen3


Goals of Kaizen4

Tools of Kaizen6

Implementing Kaizen7

An Example of Kaizen9

Other Applications11



Kaizen is an idea with humble beginnings that has taken hold of the manufacturing world and grown to become a powerful tool that can be harnessed to become a dominate player in the industrial world. The philosophy of Kaizen is a simple idea. It aims to continually make small changes anywhere it can in a process in order to ...view middle of the document...

Kaizen does not require large innovative improvement projects, but rather small, common sense improvements that can be implemented quickly. These continual, small improvements really make a difference over a long period of time.
The last part of this definition states that Kaizen involves “everyone from the chief executive to the lowest level workers.” In order for Kaizen to be effective in a company, everyone must buy in. Everyone working toward a common goal can be very powerful. Upper level management must understand this concept and encourage all levels of employees to actively participate in Kaizen activities. Many time lower level employees have a greater feel for the actual work being done, and they may have some of the best improvement ideas in the company. This definition is a good start to understanding Kaizen, but there is much more to Kaizen than a simple definition.

In order to fully understand anything, its history must first be known. Kaizen is no exception. The history of Kaizen begins just after World War II in Japan. The Toyota Company is where Kaizen got its roots. After the war, Japan was rebuilding its industries. Toyota sent Taiichi Ohno to the United States to study American manufacturing processes. Upon his return, Ohno made an unexpected suggestion. He believed that the American car manufacturers, such as Ford and General Motors, had excessive waste and were extremely inefficient in their manufacturing process. Ohno was impressed by one American market though, the grocery stores. Grocery stores employed a minimum inventory philosophy. (“Transportation Science”)
After Taiichi Ohno’s recommendations, Toyota began developing the Toyota Production System. They began developing this system by implementing quality circles, just-in-time deliveries, and kanban. All of these are tools of Kaizen. Kaizen began spreading around the world in 1986 when Masaaki Imai made it famous through his book, Kaizen: The Key to Japan's Competitive Success. This book was translated into fourteen languages and gained Kaizen gained worldwide popularity in industry. (“Kaizen History”) The Toyota Production System eventually became wildly successful and even challenged some of the major American auto manufacturers. The Toyota Production System has become what is now recognized as lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing has changed the manufacturing world since its beginnings at Toyota.

Kaizen focuses on a few key areas of improvement. The first goal of Kaizen is the elimination of waste. (“The Kaizen Method”) Waste is a very general term. It is defined as non-value added work. There are many different types of waste. Waste can be wasted motion, defects, waiting, over processing, unnecessary transportation, excess inventory, or over productions. Each of these wastes causes inefficiency in a workplace, and they can all be improved. Taiichi Ohno believed that over production is the worst of all these wastes, and he...

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