5 Things Your Assembly Line Team Can Learn from Kaizen

Posted by Louis Flory

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12/1/15 6:30 AM

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When an organization sees that something is wrong in how things are being done, their response is usually to roll out a brand new plan. The idea is this will fix the problem and improve quality and productivity. Once the new plan is implemented, they pat themselves on the back for a job well done and settle into the new groove. However, even after a complete overhaul of your company, there’s always more room for improvement. That’s where the Kaizen philosophy comes in. Japanese for “improvement,” when applied to business, it means continually working towards making things better.  Whether it be your products, your processes and the quality of life for your workers. So how can the principles of Kaizen be applied to your assembly line team? Here are five ways.

Standardize

Everyone has a specific job to do in an assembly line. All of those jobs fit together to make one whole. Therefore, it’s important that each of those jobs be performed the same way, no matter who’s doing them. If different workers have different approaches to the same task, it can lead to differences in quality between one product and the next. Those differences affect the whole rest of the assembly line. It’s important to come up with a standardized process that any employee can be trained in and that remains the same no matter who’s performing the task.

Measure

Once you have your process in place, measure the results. Is the quality of your products remaining consistent? Is it at the level where you want it to be? Are your workers performing their tasks adequately? How much time does it take to make a single product? Does that amount of time meet your established goal? In order to be constantly improving your assembly line, you need to have a good idea of where you are now, so you can see where improvement is needed.

Analyze

How do your numbers stack up? Do they meet your goals? Are you achieving the results you wanted? Are you doing better or worse than your competitors? If you’re not meeting your goals or getting the results you want, then changes need to be made. Constant measurement of your processes and analysis of the results, both with regards to the product and the workers, are the keys to improving your assembly line.

Innovate

Now that you know where you need improvement, it’s time to find ways of improving. Look at the standardized process that you designed in the first step and see which steps are the ones that aren’t working. Then, design new steps to improve productivity and efficiency. Once you’ve got a new strategy in place to improve your assembly line, then standardize that process so that all of your workers remain on the same page.

Repeat

There is always room for improvement. If you’re meeting all of your goals, then set newer, higher goals. The key to the Kaizen philosophy is to be constantly analyzing your work processes and results and working towards improving them. The process is never finished. Once you’ve standardized the new process, measure it, analyze it, and innovate another solution to fix the problems. No matter how good things are, there’s always something that can be better.

Kaizen is a great way of improving not only your production, but employee morale as well. Many processes for improvement begin and end with the product. Kaizen seeks to improve the entire working environment and every aspect of the job. Not only are your employees better and more productive, they’re also happier, healthier, and more satisfied with their lives. Kaizen makes them better and more productive employees.

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