A continual improvement process, also often called a continuous improvement process (abbreviated as CIP or CI), is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. These efforts can seek "incremental" improvement over time or "breakthrough" improvement all at once.
Key features of kaizen include:
1. Improvements are based on many small changes rather than the radical changes that might arise from Research and Development
2. As the ideas come from the workers themselves, they are less likely to be radically different, and therefore easier to implement
3. Small improvements are less likely to require major capital investment than major process changes
4. The ideas come from the talents of the existing workforce, as opposed to using research, consultants or equipment – any of which could be very expensive
5. All employees should continually be seeking ways to improve their own performance
6. It helps encourage workers to take ownership for their work, and can help reinforce team working, thereby improving worker motivation.
WHY IS THIS RELEVANT?
Continuous improvement is key to quality
The most common “method” is Lean manufacturing or lean production, often simply "lean", is a systematic method for the elimination of waste ("Muda") within a manufacturing system. Lean also takes into account waste created through overburden ("Muri") and waste created through unevenness in work loads ("Mura"). Working from the perspective of the client who consumes a product or service, "value" is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for.
Essentially, lean is centered on making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else. Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS)
Continuous Improvement breaks down into three basic principles:
1. Challenge: Having a long term vision of the challenges one needs to face to realize one's ambition (what we need to learn rather than what we want to do and then having the spirit to face that challenge). To do so, we have to challenge ourselves every day to see if we are achieving our goals.
2. Kaizen: Good enough never is, no process can ever be thought perfect, so operations must be improved continuously, striving for innovation and evolution.
3. Genchi Genbutsu: Going to the source to see the facts for oneself and make the right decisions, create consensus, and make sure goals are attained at the best possible speed.
Respect For People is less known outside of Toyota, and essentially involves two defining principles:
1. Respect: Taking every stakeholders' problems seriously, and making every effort to build mutual trust. Taking responsibility for other people reaching their objectives.
2. Teamwork: This is about developing individuals through team problem-solving. The idea is to develop and engage people through their contribution to team performance. Shop floor teams, the whole site as team, and team Toyota at the outset.
The original seven muda are:
• Transport (moving products that are not actually required to perform the processing)
• Inventory (all components, work in process, and finished product not being processed)
• Motion (people or equipment moving or walking more than is required to perform the processing)
• Waiting (waiting for the next production step, interruptions of production during shift change)
• Overproduction (production ahead of demand)
• Over Processing (resulting from poor tool or product design creating activity)
• Defects (the effort involved in inspecting for and fixing defects)
Taking the first letter of each waste, the acronym "TIMWOOD" is formed. This is a common way to remember the 7 "muda".