Kaizen /’kīzen/ (noun): a Japanese business philosophy of long term continuous improvement of working practices and personal efficiency, that result in small, attainable systematic improvements over time.
Kaizen training events review and ensures that each step in a process is standardized, done properly, and efficiently, with the goal of creating an on-going corporate culture of improvement.
Kaizen events are just one of the tactics ITC uses to facilitate continuous improvement of our production process, as well as the products themselves. This process can be used with existing production or as new products are put into production. Using the Kaizen method allows our cross-functional teams to participate together in closely monitoring our processes and making small adjustments that lead to big increases in efficiency and consistency over time. Event participation also provides each team member a better understanding of our product and what goes into the production of it. This insight gives the team the ability to provide better service and information to our customers. Having a versatile group participate in Kaizen events also provides a wide knowledge base to gather feedback to initiate process improvements.
ITC recently held a Kaizen event at our Hudsonville production facility. Led by ITC Production Coordinator, Trent Rezny, this event served as an audit of the standardized production process for one of ITC’s new linear lights. Team members from our production, quality, customer service, engineering, sales, purchasing, and marketing departments were in attendance.
Each ITC production work cell has a printed, standard process protocol posted in the cell. The protocol is a detailed written explanation with step by step photos of each step to be performed within the cell. The posted protocol serves as a guideline for team members, whether they have performed the process before or are new to it. This allows leaders the flexibility to shift team members to positions, as workloads fluctuate, with assurance of a consistent quality result.
During this ITC Kaizen event, Trent read through the proposed production steps/work instructions exactly as they are written. While the instructions were being read aloud, a production team member completed each step exactly as advised and the other attendees observed. Together, the team examined the process step-by-step while looking for things that could be confusing or cause a potential problem. The team also identified any processes that could be completed in a different manner or order to enhance the quality or reduce production time.
“The power of collaboration is really important for events like this,” said Trent. “Each department sees things a little differently and together we are able to find the right path.”
While this type of training can be tedious and time consuming, it’s important because it catches errors that may have been otherwise overlooked and allows for additional quality checks to be put in place.
The Kaizen event at ITC was a successful endeavor that brought the team together in a partnership to ensure best practices are in place as we launch our new linear lighting product.