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Auburn Technical Assistance Center (ATAC)

Kaizen - A Few Learning Points from the Team

Just finished an excellent 3-day kaizen event this week – The team followed the typical process – 1. Plan - Grasp the current Condition and set the Target 2. Do – Make the improvements, 3. Check - against the Target 4. Act – Standardize the process


The learning points were:

In grasping the current condition, we utilized the Training Within Industry Job Methods form to meticulously check each step.  Using the Why is it necessary and Whats is its purpose, the team found excessive inspection steps which could be eliminated; Using the Where should it be done and Who should do it, the team found pocesses that should be moved to an improved location and tasks that were done better by a different person; and finally for How should it be done the assembly process was balanced to takt, rearranged and organized (5S). The learning point for the team mmebers was how crucial walking every element at the gemba was in understanding the current process.  Setting an aggressive yet realistic target was easily achieved once the team understood the process in detail. For doing, the team broke into teams of two, tasks were assigned and visual on a flip chart with the learing point that frequent process checks were critical, occuring at least every 2 hours. The team completed most of the tasks with a few items remaining on the Kaizen Newspaper.  The improved process was checked against the target with good results; a day by hour borad was posted for production targets, quality issues and communication with the leadership.  Finally, the process standardized with the goal of checking daily for the next month and engaging the team members in further improving the process. With the learning point to the team being that in order to sustain the gains and further improve that standards and standardized work is vital as well as frequent, consistent audits by the leadership team.

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Comment by Robert (Bob) Petruska on April 2, 2011 at 11:08am

Nice summary, Hank.   I like how you divided the Gemba walk into basic questions, and then divided into teams of two.  This keeps everyone engaged while challenging people to perform their best. 


Sustaining any change is difficult, and I like how you approached this.  Branching out to include others who were not part of the core team is a great way to sustain the gains, and you have baked this into your recipe here.  Also, simplifying the process by making it easier for operators to perform their work helps to get a broad base of buy-in.


Leadership team involvement is crucial for sustaining, and I look forward to reading your next blog.


Thanks for sharing your experience. 


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