Go Kaizen for Success: 5 Companies Can Vouch for It | “Kaizen” is a Japanese term for “change for the better” or “improvement.” Companies use this concept when approaching processes in production, manufacturing, engineering, management and other business procedures.
Kaizen, a very flexible and adaptable process, can be easily applied to a variety of industries such as government, transportation, healthcare and even banking.
Due to Kaizen’s promising approach, many companies are applying this Japanese ideology into their processes. SMRT, for example, used the method to improve system efficiency in 2018. According to SMRT chairman, Seah Moon Ming, overall workplace efficiency improved after applying the Kaizen method. The company rolled out the process to Ulu Pandan, Bisgan and Changi depots.
Apart from SMRT, other successful companies that use the approach include the following:
The Japanese car manufacturer is one of the biggest names known for using the Kiazen method. In fact, they are responsible for the popularity of this method by proving its measurable results. The ideology of Kaizen is an essential part of Toyota’s system since it emphasizes that there is always room for improvement, a concept that resonates with Toyota’s operation.
The automotive company has been using this method for decades. Toyota employees are aware of their role within the Kaizen guidelines, as well as their responsibility in discovering new ways to improve the company’s performance. Employees who identify inefficient practices and provide recommendations for improvement receive incentives.
Ford Motor Company
While Toyota may be the most famous automotive company using Kaizen, they’re not the only one. Ford Motor Company also adopted the principle when Alan Mulally became the company’s CEO in 2006. Under Mullaly and Mark Fields’ leadership, the company used the Kaizen principle to implement practices that simplified their processes.
Ford applied the Kaizen method to determine ways to reduce operation times, correcting procedures to ensure all processes are finished on time.
Lockheed Martin, known for its innovations in global defence, aerospace, and security, is a company with worldwide interests, as well as a popular proponent of the Kaizen methodology. Using this process, the company experienced improvements from 1992 to 1997. These improvements included the following:
- 50 per cent inventory reduction
- 38 per cent reduction in manufacturing costs
- Reduction in delivery time (from 42 months to 22 months)
- A defect rate of 3.4 defects per plane
- Reduction of times to move parts (from 30 days to four hours)
Lockheed Martin’s application of Kaizen earned them the Shingo Prize for Excellence in 2000, as well as a spot in Industry Week’s “Top 10 Plants” in 1998.
The Mayo Clinic, a non-profit medical research group and practice, took a page out of Toyota’s book by studying how they used Kaizen to improve complex manufacturing operations. They believed that if a big company like Toyota could benefit from Kaizen, so can they.
The company adopted the Kaizen philosophy for the healthcare industry, which has numerous moving parts: waiting times, resources for medication and patient records are some. The Mayo Clinic also used the method to reduce surgery-related infections.
Nestle is another great example of how Kaizen can be used across a variety of industries. Nestle is the first company in the food industry to implement this Japanese method. The company uses the method to improve lean production and reduce waste by reducing the materials wasted and the time on their processes.
Since lean production is important to Nestle’s mission of reducing waste, Kaizen complements the company’s pursuit of continuous improvement. The improvement of efficiency is a continuous process since Kaizen believes that the smallest improvements can result in bigger savings.
For example, Nestle Waters applies different techniques to determine areas for improvement in all factories. The company uses Vault Stream Mapping (VSM) to illustrate the flow of information and materials required to bring customers the finished product. This process enables the company to create better bottling plans.
Kaizen is an ideology that applies to any company in any industry. If your company wishes to change for the better, take a leaf out of the book of the companies mentioned above and go Kaizen with your processes, too.