By: Mark Broding- Project Engineer
The Sino-Japanese word “kaizen” is simply translated to mean “good change”. It’s also a buzz word these days in lean manufacturing principles. But what is it?
Dymotek’s focus is always to provide products a) of the highest quality, b) at the lowest possible cost, and c) delivered on time. This is accomplished by an environment where we “continuously improve” our manufacturing operations to support those three goals. As the term “continuous improvement” suggests, this requires a system that will, over a period of time, push Dymotek forward. It’s like a water wheel in a stream which turns little by little, but continuously.
So how do we feed the water wheel to keep it continuously moving? The answer is to execute Kaizen (“good change”) activities that follow a simple PLAN – DO – CHECK – ADJUST (PDCA) approach:
– PLAN: Before the improvement is made it needs to be planned out. Measurements are taken to understand the current state. For example, if it’s a molding process that needs improvement, then the cycle time and part quality is recorded. If it’s an assembly process that needs improvement, then the assembly steps are mapped out and measured. Schedules for the implementation of the improvement project are developed and finalized. The expectations of the improvement are also clearly identified.
– DO: The improvement is implemented. While this is the most visible portion of the Kaizen activity, it must be done with as little impact to day-to-day production requirements as possible and with absolutely no impact on part quality.
– CHECK: Measurements of the improved state are taken to verify that the outcome of the improvement is aligned with the expectations.
– ADJUST: If the outcome is not aligned with the expectations, corrective actions are taken to adjust the improvement until the expected improvement is reached.
Probably the main difference between traditional programs of innovation and the PDCA Kaizen activity is the ability to check and correct the course on the go. This is possible because unlike other programs, Kaizen happens in small steps. You can measure the results after every step and you will be able to correct the changes after every step.
At Dymotek we are committed to improving at a continuous pace using PDCA Kaizen activities. This will make sure that we are not only going forward, but that we are going in the right direction for our customers and our employees.