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Modeling KAIZEN

April 8, 2009

From Wikipedia, “When applied to the workplace, Kaizen activities continually improve all functions of a business, from manufacturing to management and from the CEO to the assembly line workers”. Having a model of the entire manufacturing system gives focus to projects and a safe way to test ideas. Modeling can have many benefits. Some of them are:

   Building and validating an enterprise model gathers operators, managers, and process owner together. Consensus can be built around a validate model.

   The model is a focus over time; keep pace with continuous improvements and fostering new ones.

   The validated model is an excellent map of existing processes and illustration of how they work.

    The model can serve as test bed for change at one workstation, while simultaneously showing its effect on the organization as a whole. This micro and macro predicted results’ reporting shows if the localized treatment might kill the patient.

   A validated model can educate and involve everyone. Whether the suggested improvement came from a station operator or Operations manager, the predicted effect is visible to all. The operator may see her suggested improvement get more units out of her station in the model, but fail because the vendor can’t supply the needed parts fast enough two stations downstream. The manager who wants more out by simply putting more in to the factory will see WIP rise and cycle times increase.

   By focusing on the model of the system everyone can learn to think of manufacturing as a system. Localized thinking and slowly be replaced with global thinking. Organizational benefit will become the key criteria for evaluating a suggested improvement.

   Knowledge of the enterprise as a system will spread up and down the organization. Managers will see the effects of ideas on operators and operators will learn how they affect the enterprise far beyond their stations.

With an enterprise model to test lean improvement ideas all employees’ knowledge will be improved. Buy-in will be easier to achieve.

Your comments are welcome.

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