Kaizen in logistics and transport – how to make the most of opportunities and eliminate errors – part 2
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Internal logistics, storage, but also transport. The principles of the Kaizen philosophy originating from Japan can be applied in practically every field. Many management systems in the Western world are based on Kaizen. Building an organisation based on this philosophy is a long-term process. Today we are going to answer the question: why all this fuss and why is it so important to prevent errors?
In the Kaizen model, the most important thing is to reduce the time between developing a concept or defining a problem and the implementation of an improvement. Kaizen is not only about ensuring that a product or service meets specific quality requirements. According to this philosophy, quality comes down to a change in lifestyle, an endless process of improvement. The basic rule is to involve employees at all levels and to strive for continuous improvement of company and product quality. It consists in integrating the thought process at each stage. Why all this fuss?
Kaizen, through the gradual improvement of all aspects of the company’s operations, aims to achieve the following:
– acceleration of the work process and quality improvement; – technical adjustment of system elements; – creation of evaluation and reward criteria; – cost reduction; – improvement of ergonomics of workstations.
That’s easier said than done. The application of Kaizen philosophy from the perspective of work organisation and developing optimum work practices is often supported by principles such as:
– kaikadu, – ergonomics, – ergonometry, – economics of simple movements.
Two kaizen approaches have been distinguished:
Flow kaizen means an improvement of individual workstations and the way employees perform their work. It is related directly to the flow of materials and information and is often identified with the reorganisation of an entire company.
Process kaizen is the improvement of individual workstations. In this model, employees mostly look for small ideas which, if possible, can be implemented on the same day.
This is in contrast to traditional models of work improvement, which generally have a long lag between concept development and project implementation.
Poka-yoke is one of the key solutions supporting Kaizen. This is a method of preventing inadvertent errors. The principle is that in manufacturing it is not people, but only processes that should be blamed for errors.
Generally speaking, the way to reduce faults is to create conditions in which the error cannot happen or will be immediately visible. Such solutions can be found for example in almost every car assembly plant.
This involves, for example, collecting a sufficient number of different types of parts necessary on individual assembly lines. For each type of part, various distinctive (matching the shape of a given part) containers are prepared. Both the shape and the order in which the containers are positioned accurately represent the assembly process. Once an assembly is finished, all containers for parts should be empty. The risk of making a mistake with such a work organisation is marginal.
The same applies to technical measures, which are increasingly used to eliminate errors, and which are located within production lines. Many of them are equipped with automatic interlocks, activated e.g. when contact with a human being occurs. This means that when an employee enters a designated, electronically protected zone, the line or line element is immediately switched off.