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The Kaizen method, a LEAN continuous improvement approach

The LEAN Kaizen approach is based on constant small improvements, day after day. It is a gradual and gentle method, in opposition to the Western concept "We throw everything away, we start over with new things".

KAIZEN encourages a process-oriented way of thinking. If the results are not compliant, the process is obviously not compliant and management will be committed to identifying and correcting process issues.

Kaizen, progress through better hazard management

The word Kaizen is the fusion of the two Japanese words: "Kai" and "Zen" which mean respectively "change" and "good". In French, we can translate this as continuous improvement, continuous, better and positive changes. The aim of this LEAN method, Kaizen, analyses the situation in order to make it better by involving everyone and applied by the PDCA method, a tool of LEAN and continuous improvement.

Definition of the continuous improvement process

Initially, Kaizen is a state of mind based on the cooperation of all the operators, the actors of the improvement circuit. Then, in a second stage, the better change method is a LEAN Management and LEAN Manufacturing tool that makes it possible to get rid of problems that penalise production, by proposing simple, concrete and inexpensive solutions, carried out in a very short time.

From experience, we know that the will to progress is not enough in itself. It must be accompanied at all times by a system for measuring industrial performance, including objectives expressed and called into question each time progress is made. In many companies, the letter K is often used to indicate the performance to be achieved. This is why the introduction of the KAIZEN process promotes the achievement of performance and the achievement of a "Zen" situation, conducive to a serene environment for all staff.

Advantage of the Kaizen method to eliminate problems

The advantage of this tool is that it allows to get rid of these problems by :

  • Learning basic rules such as: the art of better managing your workstation, eliminating waste (non-value added), standardization (quality assurance).
  • The attack of fatality, source of dysfunctions that cause productivity losses.
  • Ease of operational implementation for a strong impact on results.
  • The ability to introduce the basic principles of continuous improvement through a motivation generated by evidence and common sense.

Another advantage of the Kaizen concept is that it is not limited to production processes but is applied throughout the company.

The different objectives of LEAN Kaizen

Is this desire to achieve ever more ambitious objectives not the permanent motivation of the sports world? But the company is in the same situation of fierce competition in which progress is the engine of life, even survival. Who doesn't move backwards!

In the production sectors, staff are confronted with 3 types of objectives:

  • Reduced consumption of time, labour and production equipment for manufacturing.
  • The best quality products while limiting the consumption of materials and components to what is strictly necessary.
  • The shortest lead time due to the flexibility and responsiveness of the organization.

It has been shown that organizations with short lead times optimize the use of manpower and machine resources and allow greater control over the quality and waste of materials.

Productive changes in Kaizen LEAN

Interest of Kaizen, an approach of attack against the hazards

Kaizen is a philosophy of continuous improvement. It is based on the responsibility and autonomy of each team member and the permanent fight against hazards and all kinds of waste that simultaneously generate quality problems and therefore cost and time encountered during industrial life.

The "step by step progression towards excellence" is therefore based on the analysis and treatment of these hazards. Each hazard impacts performance. Each hazard family impacts an indicator of these performances. KAIZEN continuous improvement projects are set up to provide solutions to these hazards and measure changes in the performance indicators used.

The Kaizen philosophy is based on the principle that hazards, malfunctions or drifts in indicators represent real opportunities for improvement:

  • First on an immediate healing aspect, to remove the hazard immediately
  • But above all on a preventive aspect: the objective is to draw lessons by implementing sustainable solutions by searching for the root cause in order to eradicate definitively the hazard treated.

Principle of the Kaizen method and approach through actions

Managing a company, a site or a service means taking responsibility, making choices about the actions to be undertaken to optimise the combination of technical, economic and human elements. In the application of the measure, we have moved from a purely technical and economic evaluation to the use of a development tool, which involves "those who do" in the evaluation of their own work, in the design and implementation of improvement actions.

This change is part of a broader context that has seen companies change the way they do business, the role and responsibilities of each. Indeed, the operator, from a simple performer, thinking little or not and working alone, gradually becomes responsible for what he does, participates in structured group work, designs and prepares what he has to do.

The 1st level manager becomes a facilitator more dedicated to making his teams think and motivate. This evolution in collective and individual practices extends to management, which becomes closer to the field and more involved.

From this point of view, the measure has become everyone's business, and is therefore equipped with objectives to motivate and stimulate action. It has become a tool for continuous improvement.

The indicators must make it possible to improve the performances of an entity, to optimize management and piloting as well as to motivate the personnel.

In the representation of an indicator, the objective makes it possible to clearly show the goal to be achieved, to mobilize energy towards this goal and to serve as a reference for assessing the result.

  • Clearly show the purpose

    How do you get anywhere if you don't know where you want to go? It is only if it is very clear, if the goal to be reached is very concrete, that it allows us to organize our action, to verify its progress and, if necessary, to "correct the shooting".

  • Mobilizing energy

    Sports champions use visualization: They mentally project images of their success, they see themselves in advance beat their record. And it works! Why? Why? Because the more the representation of the desired result is made real, tangible, visible, the more attractive it is, the more it mobilizes energy. When the objective is formulated in concrete, positive, precise terms, which offer in advance an image of success, this formulation alone increases the chances of achieving it.

  • Appreciate the result

    Much of the staff's assessment is based on their performance. This is obviously only possible insofar as the definition of each result makes it possible to check whether it is achieved or not, or even exceeded. And here we find the key question: "To what will we see that our commitment is kept, that the result is reached? »

Essential tools to implement a continuous improvement process

Discover the SESA SYSTEMS creations for the Kaizen method of LEAN.

Training through play is the pleasure of learning by playing together. It is also to contribute to the new development of each one by making it possible to obtain rich, new and fruitful learning situations.

The participants will discover through their personal experiences, the need to implement these new evidences thus highlighted and to facilitate their transposition in their everyday life.

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