Reducing Cost and Maximizing Efficiency with Kaizen Events
Kagan Pittman posted on October 13, 2015 |

The struggle to cut costs and maximize efficiency is never-ending, especially in the manufacturing industry. As technology advances, the work floor changes and so too does the way we design and manufacture products. Costs fluctuate with the times and when things get rough even the best of us consider cutting corners.

But there are solutions that don’t involve sacrifices at the altar of success.

Rather than the traditional approach of “divide and conquer” when dealing with challenges or problem solving, consider the value of organizing a “Kaizen Event.”

The concept of “Kaizen,” a Japanese and Chinese term meaning “continuous improvement,” was introduced to the Western world by management consultant Masaaki Imai in his book titled, Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success, published in 1986.

A manufacturing team gathers for a Kaizen Event. (Image courtesy Manor Tool.)

A manufacturing team gathers for a Kaizen Event. (Image courtesy Manor Tool.)

A Kaizen Event brings employees from a diverse group of departments together to discuss the problems at hand and utilizes the greatest amount of experience and diversity of opinion in problem solving.

This event can involve in-the-field demonstrations, or more formal meetings over the course of three to five days. By the end of the process, those in attendance should all be in support of the agreed upon solution.

This kind of event doesn’t only bring more creative minds into the problem-solving effort, but builds upon the workplace community.  Each of these employees are shown their value as a part of the production process and in turn they will develop more of an interest in seeing their company succeed.

Manor Tool is one company who advocates for the effectiveness of Kaizen Events.

“We pride ourselves on our Kaizen Events around here,” John Creighton, sales manager at Manor Tool told ENGINEERING.com.

“Our Kaizen Events are all tied into safety. We make internal corrections for operators by bringing in people like myself that work in a different department, who will watch an operator on how he’s packing and try to make it safer for him. The process increases productivity and keeps our operators safer.”

This commitment to safety reflects in Manor Tool’s track record in preventing workplace accidents. Manor Tool was selected as one of Quality Magazine's 2013 Quality Leadership 100 companies.

Insured by Workers Trust Compensation Insurance (WTCI), Manor Tool’s last accident occurred 1,640 days ago. “We pride ourselves on our safety record here,” Creighton said.

That pride has resulted in Manor Tool’s effort to share their foundation for success in two publicly available whitepapers.

How to Use Kaizen Events to Optimize Manufacturing” provides a closer look at what makes an effective Kaizen Event and how Manor Tool has found success in using them with case examples.

Unfortunately, nothing is perfect. Kaizen Events take time away from employees who would otherwise have very busy schedules. Finding the opportunity to organize an entire facility or office can be exceptionally challenging.

Arguments over different ideas can also occur and heated disagreements may lead to the practice falling out of favor. A Kaizen “champion” or leader who directs their event is needed to moderate and create a common ground for those in attendance.

For situations where Kaizen Events are not possible or practical, Manor Tool released advice for success in their “Cost Saving Guide for Metal Stamped Parts” whitepaper.

The paper dives into a list of 23 cost-saving tips concerning:

  1. Materials,
  2. Die Life Cycles,
  3. Tooling,
  4. Quality Control,
  5. Tolerancing and others

Manor Tool’s advice comes with experience from a company history dating back to 1959 in Chicago.

“We’re what you’d consider a medium sized stamping company,” Creighton said. “We have 30 presses in our press room, up to 400 tons in size, we have OBI’s, straight-sides in the back and we also have an in-house tool room, machine shop and robotic work cell in our facility.”

Manor Tool’s staff try to utilize the principles outlined in their white papers to ensure the greatest cost savings for jobs of all sizes.

“If a substantial job comes in, something that’s high value, it would be best to take the time to stop and take a look forward and ask, ‘How can we approach this, can it be kaizened, can the process be shortened?’”

To learn more about Manor Tool and how to use Kaizen Events to maximize efficiency, www.manortool.com.

For situations where Kaizen Events are not possible or practical, Manor Tool released advice for success in their “Cost Saving Guide for Metal Stamped Parts” whitepaper. How to Use Kaizen Events to Optimize Manufacturing

Manor Tool has sponsored this post. It has no editorial input to this post. All opinions are mine. – Kagan Pittman

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