Leveraging 5S + Kaizen

    3 min read

    Kaizen and 5S are two different concepts that have a lot in common. Understanding what each of them are will help you to determine which one should be used in which situations. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a facility should use either Kaizen or 5S. The reality is, however, that in many situations it is actually best to use both of them Implementing Kaizen plus 5S in one facility will help you to improve many different areas and the benefits can compound on each other. Take some time to read through this article to learn more about what each of them are separately, and the benefits of using both.

    What is Kaizen?

    Kaizen is a philosophy that is focused on helping companies improve their productivity and quality over the course of time. The term is Japanese and means improvement for the better. This is often translated to ‘continuous improvement’ when used by companies in this way. The idea is that there is always room for improvement in any organization. Even when things are going well, it should still be a priority to find improvement opportunities

    There are many different ways that improvement can be made within a facility. This will include eliminating waste, improving supply chains, creating more efficient procedures, and much more. The main thing to keep in mind is that no matter the size of the improvement, it is always a good idea to take steps toward perfection. A change that makes even a small reduction in waste, for example, will add up to a significant benefit over the course of years. In addition, making small improvements will often help to reveal additional changes that can be made to further benefit the facility.

    What is 5S?

    5S is also focused on making improvements within a facility. This strategy uses five different steps, each of which begin with an S. Like Kaizen, 5S began in a Japanese facility and has since been used in companies around the world. The name 5S comes from the fact that the five steps all begin with the letter S. In English these are sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. Some facilities will add in a sixth S for safety as well.

    Each of these concepts are used to identify areas where the company can eliminate waste and improve efficiency. Sort, for example, means to make sure everything in the facility has its proper place. This will help keep things from getting lost while also reducing the wasted time people spend looking for something that is out of place.

    How Kaizen and 5S are Conducted

    While these two systems certainly have a lot in common, there are some key differences that need to be noted. Understanding these differences will help to illustrate how they can be used together for the long term benefit of the facility. With Kaizen, managers and employees look at specific activities that are done and break them down into small processes. They can then look at each process to see where improvements can be made. By going through this process it is often possible to streamline tasks so they take less time, produce less waste, and are able to be completed more efficiently.

    With 5S, on the other hand, improvement is generally made by making changes to the way things are organized and maintained. As mentioned above, the first step in this is making sure everything in the facility is properly sorted. 5S continues to make sure that everything is properly organized, cleaned and maintained, standardized, and finally that any improvements are sustained over time. The 5S methodology looks at concepts that can be applied throughout the organization.

    Implementing Kaizen and 5S

    Notice that Kaizen is primarily focused on specific processes at any given time. If improvements need to be made to two different processes, they will require separate Kaizen events to take place. 5S is more focused on strategies that can apply across many different areas. Since these two systems work very differently toward the same goal of improving the facility, they can both be used at the same time.

    It is not at all uncommon for a company to begin using both of these strategies at roughly the same time. When a company decides that they want to begin the process of making improvements in the facility, they will turn to these two common solutions. Both Kaizen and 5S are also commonly used strategies within the overall Lean manufacturing methodologies. This further makes it a good idea to implement both of these two systems at the same time.

    Whether you have already been using one of these solutions, or you are just learning about the improvement opportunities available, it is a good idea to use these complimentary systems. In the end, it will help to eliminate waste, streamline production, and of course, improve the bottom line.

    Categories 5S

    An Introduction to Kaizen

    kaizen
    2 min read

    kaizenIf you are looking to improve your workplace or implement Lean manufacturing, it’s critical to understand the philosophy of Kaizen. Adopting the Kaizen mindset can have a major influence on productivity, quality, and processes and when practiced correctly, you will likely find great success.

    So, what is Kaizen? Kaizen is a Japanese word that means improvement or change for the better. It is a culture of continuous improvement and promotes the concept that small changes are often better than drastic changes. Kaizen uses incremental changes that may seem insignificant, but when practiced rigorously, it all adds up to major improvement. The philosophy empowers employees from all levels and can keep employees more engaged with their job. Kaizen is usually practiced in two different forms: daily Kaizen and Kaizen events.

    Daily Kaizen

    When utilized daily, Kaizen is adopted as a mindset and is woven into the organization’s culture. Improvements are made on a daily basis, and not only as mandated by managers in supervisors. Instead, it relies on frontline employees and those working on the factory floor. These are the experts as they observe and work with processes every day. It’s important everyone is trained and encouraged to share abnormalities they spot and suggestions for a solution. It may be a bit slow at first, but over time people will become more used to seeing a small issue and fixing it right away.

    Kaizen Events

    A Kaizen event, sometimes called a kaizen blitz, is a more concentrated on a specific process or issue that can be solved in a short amount of time. These events are conducted over a few days or a couple weeks with a set goal in mind. A team is created that meet over the course of the event and work towards designing a solution. Following the Kaizen event, the changes are analyzed, and data is collected to determine whether or not it was successful.

    The PDCA Cycle

    However, you choose to implement Kaizen, most activities are carried out using the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) Cycle. The PDCA Cycle is a four-step process that when utilized, guides you through continuous improvement. The cyclical nature begins with the planning process where the issue is assessed, and the problem is clearly detailed. Possible solutions are formulated which will be carried out in the next step. In the check phase, you follow up to gauge how effective the changes were. Finally, you act. If the solution worked well, start implementing those changes across the facility with starting at the plan phase. However, if the outcome was not desirable move back to the plan phase again and try new solutions.