In an ideal world, you run a Kaizen event and the numbers don’t lie – it’s an impressive success! But, what happens when the event is completed and the process begins to revert back to the level it was prior? How do you prevent that from happening? How can you sustain the gains? In this blog we’ll look at:
- Kaizen events can improve production, but how do you sustain continuous improvement gains in manufacturing?
- Real-time monitoring is the key to maintain improvement in manufacturing, success and staying successful.
How Does Kaizen Improve Efficiency?
To sustain the gains of running a Kaizen event, you need a monitoring process. It’s a pretty simple concept, actually. Let’s say you bring in an outside consultant or activate the internal continuous improvement team to run the Kaizen event.
To remove waste from production (a reference to 5s here), the consultants or continuous improvement teams do time studies, watch the process run, time events with a stopwatch, or even create production sheets for operators and supervisors to fill out detailing the process. Tedious, right?
They use the results from the Kaizen event to figure out where waste is in the process and fix it. Once, they remove that waste, they leave and go on to their next job. What happens if people drift back into their old habits and those changes and fixes go out the window? How do you make sure that doesn’t happen? And, if it does, how do you know it’s happened?
There’s really no process in place to ensure those scenarios don’t happen if you don’t have an analytics system. It’s truly a guessing game. Sustaining the gains of implementation is difficult without a monitoring process in place.
After a Kaizen Event, Maintain Improvement in Manufacturing
For example, let’s say the consultant or improvement team make the process faster. But, over time, bad habits rise back to the surface. Cycle time becomes longer. Delivery times extend further and further. Takt time decreases. Over time, the entire process gradually slows down.
If a monitoring system had been in place, the manufacturer would’ve immediately known something was wrong and measures could have been taken to prevent the downward spiral. He or she would’ve learned from what they’ve seen in reporting and reinforced and fixed the changes that were made during the Kaizen process.
It’s also important to note that cultural change is very important in sustaining gains made during a Kaizen event. It’s something we at SensrTrx strongly emphasize, but also has been reinforced by many others; check out this podcast we recently listened to that reiterated that thinking. Shout out to Adam Lawrence with Process Improvement Partners – we appreciate the insight!
There’s no question about it – continuous improvement is a journey.
How Can You Sustain Continuous Improvement?
Time for another example to drive the point home. Let’s say, a manufacturer has a machine with 60% uptime, but they know it can be improved. They hire a consultant or bring in the internal continuous improvement team to conduct a Kaizen event. They do their jobs well and are able to increase uptime to 65%. Then, they decide it can be improved once again, increasing uptime to 70% and so forth.
With all of the steps along the way, how can the manufacturer make sure their efforts aren’t futile and uptime doesn’t decrease? Or, how does uptime continue to improve one percentage number after another? How can any manufacturer accomplish those improvements?
With reliable data collection and scoreboards displaying real-time data, it’s possible to maintain, improve, and monitor for gradual decreases in performance.
How Do You Sustain Change?
Manufacturing is a living, breathing thing – nothing ever stays the same. A manufacturer may be producing the same product day after day, the same amounts of product, but truly, nothing ever stays the same. People change. Machines get older. There are a number of factors that contribute to change, whether planned or unplanned.
Even if you are able to improve, employ the best, most capable supervisors and operators, it is very likely something will happen to cause a different problem, one that you didn’t know about or couldn’t have anticipated. That problem can reduce the effectiveness of any working part of the factory – a line, a product, etc.
If you think about a bottling line, today, the problem could be a filler that needs to be fixed, tomorrow, it’s the capper, a week from now, you’re selling a new product which means adding another changeover that’s more complex than the rest. A different day brings new challenges, not all of which we can be prepared for.
With manufacturing analytics on your side, you are able to weather the storm, prepare for the unpredictable, and really maintain those big wins. You’ve essentially got the power to truly sustain the gains.