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Kaizen Event, DMAIC and PDCA
A Kaizen Event or Kaizen Blitz is a team based improvement activity, aiming to implement "easy" improvements in a short period of time. Kaizen is a Japanese word that means to change or modify (Kai) to make things better (Zen). Kaizen is used to make small continuous improvements in the workplace to reduce cost, improve quality and delivery. It is usually a focussed 3-5 day event that relies on implementing "quick" and "do-it-now" type solutions. Kaizen focuses on eliminating the wastes in a process so that processes only add value to the customer. It is important that the scope is clearly defined, otherwise the activities may lack focus. Also, the authority for certain kinds of decisions have to be delegated to the group, so that they can immediately implement the changes they want to make. These are usually low cost / no cost improvements. When an improvement would need a larger type of investment, this cannot be delegated. However, such ideas can be part of the presentation to management, as well as an indicative justification of such investment.
An example of a Kaizen Event is a 3-5 day 5S Workplace Organisation Event where during the event all steps from the 5S's are done, and all items that can be implemented are implemented immediately. Of course, all items that cannot be dealt with sufficiently during the event have to be part of an action list and should be resolved within a specified time.
Depending on the scope of the Kaizen Event the 14 Step Kaizen Template can be used: it is the most in depth step-by-step guide to go from problem/goal definition to solution and replication. Since it covers all the steps in DMAIC, we shall use the 14 Step Kaizen Template to further explain DMAIC.
A Kaizen Event is an extremely powerful and efficient way to quickly improve a process and to eliminate waste. The intent of a Kaizen Event is to hold small events attended by the owners and operators of a process to make improvements to that process which are within the scope of the process participants.
DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyse, Implement, Control / Verify
DMAIC is a method to structure the improvement process, and to ensure that the next step is only taken after the current one is really finished. It aims to avoid "jumping to conclusions" or to work towards a desired (predefined) solution. It is about the facts instead of the opinion. Although DMAIC suggests only 5 steps, we shall soon see that these "Milestone" steps can be divided into smaller steps, to make the improvement process more specific.
The first step -define- already consists of multiple items.The following things have to be defined:
1. Problem Definition
The problem defition must be clear: preferably a quantitative description of the issue. Describe the phenomenon clearly so that everybody understands and agrees what the issue is. Check if the issue has been dealt with before: is it a new item or has it also occurred in the past? Do we know the outcome when it has been dealt with before? Is it aligned with other initiatives / projects ?
2. Team Formation
Once the problem description is clear, the final team has to be chosen. Make sure this is a multi disciplinary team, useful roles include: someone working with the process daily, an expert, a method manager and include people from the shop floor. For the team charter: make a team photo! And define everybody's role in this team (which can be quite different from daily work). Sometimes roles can be combined. A team of 4 to 6 people is preferred. Depending on the issue, the specialist can be included on an ad hoc basis.
3. Define Potential Benefits
Why are we going to work on this item? Do we know which losses are associated with this issue? Do we know what it means in terms of money, time, customer satisfaction, quality and so on? Do these losses actually occur, or is there a risk that they may occur? Is there a Safety implication? When we quantify this, do we know what the benefits will be when we resolve this issue completely?
4. Why this issue?
Do we have an overview on issues, and how this one is relative to the other issues? So before we engage we verify the item has the value and potential to work on it with this team. And this team is the right team to work on it. Does it justify the envisaged time and effort that will be spent on it, or are there better alternatives? If yes, finalize the project charter, specify the goal (when do we consider this project a success, how will it be measured, which deliverables do we expect), then go ahead to the next phase: Measure!
The goal of this step is to identify critical measures related to the issue. It is about developing a methodology to effectively collect data to measure process performance, and to get a better understanding why the issue exists (causes of variation).
5. Decribe process and basic conditions
Which are the process variables? Considering we are dealing with unwanted variation we need to have a process decription and/or process map.
The Fishbone or Ishikawa Diagram for example can be used to further examine how the influencing factors (Methods, Machine, Materials, Measurement, Man) are related to the variation. Try to visualise as much as possible, for example with a VSM Value Stream Map, a flow chart, use photos, videos or whatever is possible.
Before Data Collection starts we first have to assess which data is available. Is it continuous or discrete? Which sources for data do we have? Are they equally accurate? Is there too much data available? Then see what would be the best way to reduce it. In some cases you may want to use sampling in order to reduce the amount of data to be processed.
Another way to visualise is the use of a concentration diagram: a concentration diagram shows on a map where and how often an issue has occurred.
Depending on the kind of project, variation and availability of measurements different tools can be used, for example:
- FMEA (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis)
- Gauge R&R Analysis
Once we know the measurements we can go to the next step: Analyse.
The goal of this step is to further stratify potential causes for the issue and to find and to verify the root cause.
6. Improvement Objectives
Generate Potential Solutions and see if and how they relate to the issue, using the Ishikawa diagram. Do we see any items for Individual Improvement (Man)?
Aim for zero losses and Set up graphs with timeline and target lines to visualise progress and results. We do want see the elimination of potential causes, therefore progress tracking is crucial: when we do not see any real improvement we must conclude the root cause has not been found. Although this is not the most popular sequence, you will need to re-iterate, check for other items.
The only proof the root-cause has been found, is that you can switch the phenomena "on" and "off".
Therefore the analysis may take more time than originally thought. In some cases it the root cause is among the first things done, in some cases it is lower on the list, and when you are less fortunate it is not on the list at all, or it is caused by an interaction of factors. The good news is that it is quite rare the an interactions leads to substantial variation: in most cases there will be one or two dominant individual factors.
The goal of "Improve" is to identify, evaluate, and select the right improvement solutions. You may need to develop a change management approach to assist the organization in adapting to the changes: this is not always straight forward. The Analysis as well as Improvement Phases usually take most of the lead time. The improvement phase is about Generating Solution Ideas, Determining Solution Impacts: Actual Benefits, Evaluating and Selecting Solutions and, most importantly: to communicate solutions to all stakeholders!
Indeed, it is not only (the right) time to improve, but also one needs time to improve!
7. Improvement Plan
Create a planning, including tasks, roles and responsiblities for everybody involved.
8. Potential Causes
Use the outcome of the analysis to and other previous steps to make a list of potential causes and prospective countermeasures.
9. Potential Countermeasures
Check the countermeasures with the stakeholders: are they feasible? Are they easy to implement, preferably low cost / no cost solutions? Check the countermeasure in practice: does it seem to be effective? Does the countermeasure -once determined to be effective- require changes in work instructions or One Point Lessons?
10. Implementation Plan
Once we know which countermeasures will be implemented, we can make an implementation plan. Also here is the key item: communication! Make sure appropriate changes are made to work instructions, training material and everything that is needed to have it implemented in a sustainable manner. Management is responsible for the implementation while the team is responsible for monitoring the progress and to signal any delays.
The goal of "Control" is to ensure process control over the long term, to identify standardization opportunities/processes and to identify possibilities for replication.
11. Verify Sustaining Results
It is here that we verify the results that have been achieved. Did we reach our goal? If only partially, we need to consider other root causes as well: additional solutions will be necessary. And are there any secondary results from the improvement realised, for example: is the job now easier to do? Has it improved the motivation ?
12. Sustaining Improvements
Now the results have been verified and that the countermeasure proves effective, it is crucial to integrate it into all aspects of daily work, training material, process descriptions etc to ensure the gains will be held. Ensure easy application of the new standard including signalling of deviations: this should be made as easy (visual) as possible. Is the new situation "fool proof" or "Poka Yoke"? Which countermeasures have we taken to ensure the issue cannot return? How are we going to track this issue in the longer run? In case it would start to re-occur, how would we notice this quickly? Which indicators do we have and what are their control limits? Do we have first line countermeasures in place when the control limits are exceeded (preventive/corrective action)?
13. Additional Value
Evaluate where the improvement could be of value too. Are there other areas where this could be applied? Are there similar processes that can be improved based on this result?
Communicate the achievements within the site and company: not only to show the achievements, but also to find these other areas that could benefit from your result! And: CELEBRATE RESULTS!!
14. Additional Actions
Evaluate the project. Did the project go as planned? How was attendance of the meetings? Did the action log work well? Because also the project itself can be used to learn to do it even better next time!
PDCA: Plan, Do, Check, Adjust
Ever heard of William Edwards Deming? . He is considered the founder of the PDCA Cycle or the cycle for continuous process improvement. This cycle consist of four steps, with each step focussing on specific aspects of the improvement process.
The Starting Point is a clear, concise and measurable description of waste, rework or deviation from a standard. It can for example be derived from the loss analysis, a quantitative view on the losses in the organization or process. It can be related to Safety, Productivity, Quality, Delivery Performance, Cost and/or Morale.
The Goal Statement is the clear, concise, measurable and attainable objective. SMART: Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Time Specific. It is about Objectives, Targets, Resources and Planning.
This step is about goal translation and task execution. What needs to be done? How do we get there? Which are the specific actions and what are the critical success factors? Are all people as well as the resources available as planned? How are things communicated? We need to ensure appropriate training, communication, system documentation control including regulatory affairs.
Did we achieve the targets? Is the progress the progress we anticipated? Are the new systems and working methods indeed working the way they should?
Are we indeed performing better than for example last year? Are we on track relative to the goals and time?
Here we analyse the gap between actual and desired/preferred state. This for example can be based on audit results, performance metrics, incident investigations and other metrics (employee motivation survey) or observations. The gap analysis is the basis for the next improvement cycle, so from here we return to "Plan".