A kaizen event or kaizen blitz (Kaikaku) is the most recognized and effective way of getting immediate and noticeable gains in any business including manufacturing or service environment. Generally, companies would form a team with external consultants as the facilitators to carry out kaizen events to make improvements in a certain area. This can last for 3 to 5 days or several months.
Kaizen events usually require a lot of pre-planning to ensure that the improvements are successful. During this time, the team would do an analysis and make suggestions for improvements according to lean manufacturing principles and tools. The main focus of these events is to eliminate the seven wastes wherein the team would look at work layout and cell design.
Basically, a kaizen blitz is more about accomplishing things immediately instead of taking weeks to do an analysis and make a decision. By and large, kaizen events and lean manufacturing are focused on taking action so it’s typical for companies to end up moving around their entire factory by day three of the kaizen event. Of course, all the implementations are not going to be right all the time, so a few adjustments might have to be done at a later date. However, it’s far better to make improvements which are about 80% right and then continue to make adjustments over time instead of not doing anything at all.
Perhaps the main reason why companies carry out kaizen events is because these exercises often delivers about 30% to 100% of rapid improvements in business efficiencies. These events can focus on any facet or area of the business that is in need of improvement including lead time reduction; speed of processing orders; relationship with suppliers, amongst other things. The most important thing to do before any event would be to identify the areas which need improving to ensure that the target goals can be achieved.
For companies to get the real benefits from kaizen events, they have to think about continuous improvements. Since these events generally takes place on one-off occasions, the teams which were formed to carry out a specific improvement exercise will be released in the end. This could be a problem if certain measures are not implemented for continuing improvement. Aside from that, this could also cause slippage in any improvements that were done because the people will start to revert to their old methods of doing things. So, it’s very important to establish a culture for continuous improvement to maintain the complete gains which are achieved during the events.
The bottom-line is that companies generally have kaizen events to get a breakthrough in their performance in a short time period. If you are thinking of implementing kaizen principles in your organization, you need to have these events often across various areas, along with other kaizen initiatives.