Kaizen Process: Global Overview
Kaizen is a process used by many companies to improve their operations. It is a Japanese word that means “continuous improvement” and calls for all members of a company to work towards improving all processes. Toyota has adopted Kaizen as one of its core values. This research looks at how prominent/widespread the use of Toyota's Kaizen process is among manufacturers outside of Japan.
Research identified many industries that have adopted the Kaizen Process in their operations. However, no statistics covering how many companies have adopted these principles exists in the public domain.
We primarily researched online general research websites like Statista for statistics discussing Kaizen. Although there are some reports about Toyota's Kaizen process, none of these reports give any statistics on how many companies are using the process outside of japan. Research was then broadened to include leading business news websites like Forbes, NYT, Wall Street Journal and CNN specifically looking for statistics of the Kaizen process for companies outside of Japan. However, none of these websites had such data.
We then searched for scholarly case studies and industry reports in leading research websites like the Stanford Business Review MCA- Management Consulting Agency, The Case Centre, Harvard Business Review, The Urban Institute, Oppla, ProQuest and The Keystone Policy Center's databases. However, no statistics on the number of companies using the Kaizen process outside of Japan were found. Instead, case studies of companies that have successfully used the process were found.
Kaizen is a Japanese word that means "continuous improvement" and is a strategy where all employees jointly work towards achieving a common goal. It is a philosophy where all employees are actively involved in the company's processes and it becomes their way of thinking. Kaizen is often used together with Six Sigma, Lean, Total Quality Management and 5S. The Lean process is found to be used by many companies outside Japan.
KAIZEN PROCESS USERS
As of 2017, 55% of managers reported implementing a Lean process in their companies' supply chains. In addition, 61% of manufacturers had implemented or showed plans to implement a Lean process by 2014. Leading countries using Kaizen processes include America, United Kingdom, Belgium and India. The process is used in various sectors like hospitals, governments, and manufacturing among others.
GREAT WESTERN BANK
To help accelerate the recovery process from the 2008-2009, Great Western Bank implemented the Kaizen process. In this program, the bank mainly focused on simplifying processes, both for employees and customers. The bank implemented a 30% reduction in steps needed to open a checking account reducing the process from 34 to 24 steps. Through this strategy, the company improved service delivery to customers in addition to lowering costs of provided services.
Herman Miller produces the popular Aeron office chair. The company applied the Kaizen approach to streamline its manufacturing process. In this strategy, the company changed heights of assembly lines, moved supplies, and used ergonomics to streamline the processes. As a result of this strategy, the company recorded a 1,000% increase in productivity in a period of 14 years. In addition, as a result of the Kaizen approach, the company's production time per chair dropped from 82 seconds to 17 seconds.
Lockhead Martin is a global aerospace and security company that uses the Kaizen strategy. Because of using this process, the company has reported a 38% reduction in manufacturing costs. In addition, the company has reported a 50% reduction in inventory, while the delivery time has dropped from 42 months to 21 months. Lockhead Martin also managed to reduce the time needed to allocate moving stock to its appropriate place from 30 days to just four hours. The company used Kaizen when developing its Joint Air To Ground Missile System to improve the manufacturing process. Following the successful implementation of these changes, the company was awarded the 2000 Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing.
The Mayo Clinic was motivated by how Toyota used Kaizen and adopted the strategy. The medical health and wellness provider applied the Kaizen method to waiting times, patient records, and management of hospital resources. Due to application of these changes, the hospital improved quality in mortality rates as well as reduction in surgical infection rates. Time allocated for patients and safety of patient records all improved as a result of adopting the new changes. Using this strategy, the hospital developed a mechanism to provide all doctors easy and quick access to information.
Leyland Trucks launched a robotic spray booth for truck chassis, becoming the first assembly plant in the world that did this. Following the implementation of the Kaizen process, the company has been able to collect more than 200 new ideas on how to streamline the production process. There has also been a 17% reduction in hours needed to work on a single truck as well as 20% reduction in inventory. In addition, employees working was reduced by 23%, time deliveries increased by 95%, while mechanical defects reduced by 10%. Finally, employee injuries reduced by 45% as a result of implementation of the Kaizen strategy.
Siemens Oostkmap specializes in production of electronic components. The company employed the Kaizen method to help spot problems in its production process. In this strategy, the company fully communicated its problems to employees, and got them involved in the recovery process. Employees made changes, set goals and used charts to track their progress. Following the implementation of the Maizes process, the company reduced the cost of inventory by 30%. In addition, Siemens Oostkmap reduced its lead times from 12 days to half a day. Finally, the company reduced its product types by 33%.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY
To help recover from the 2000 recession, Ford launched the Kaizen process to streamline and speed up its processes. In this strategy, the company focused on implementing efficient processes by reducing manufacturing times through correction of procedures, and as a result, the company added more that 5,000 jobs in the US.
The Indian state of Gujarat used the Kaizen methods to train its employees how to deliver more functionality to the public sector. In this strategy, the state trained more than 80 employees in two weeks.
NESTLE- AMERICAN FOOD MANUFACTURER
Following the implementation of the Kaizen process, Nestle has managed to reduce waste in addition to lowering the time needed to manufacture products.
American sports shoe maker, Nike had become famous for low wages and as a result, was low demand. To recover, the company employed the continuous improvement that involved empowering employees, partners, and customers. They started offering incentive to contract factories so that they can improve working conditions of their employees. Nike introduced a scoring system called Manufacturing Index to assess the factories. As a result of this strategy, the company engaged workers, eliminated waste and employed managers that are value-oriented. Nike changed its processes to focus on producing high quality materials at low cost.
The e-commerce giant uses Kaizen principles to govern its operations. The company automated most of its operations, leaving only the complex ones for human employees. As part of the strategy, the company launched the Andon-Cord process to help get rid of cases of defective products. In this process, the company uses distribution centers manned by managers who are dedicated to constantly improving the workflow. As a result of this process, the company has reported a 50% reduction on the rate of defects. In addition, the company has reported 40% faster lead times and 20% improved productivity. Finally, Amazon reduced the time needed to introduce a new model by 30%.
Pixar also applies the Kaizen strategy in its processes. Initially, the company seemed to have great ideas, which were not bearing fruits. The Kaizen process was introduced to stir up its processes and improve production. As a result of the new strategy, the company discovered that there was a disconnect in its chain of communication. Some managers in the company did not feel respected and appreciated and others felt they were being silenced. In response, the company initiated open-end conversations with employees to bypass the traditional channels for communication. By working on its communication processes, Pixar has been able to improve on the quality of its products.