How Design of Experiment (DoE) can boost your Business?

Introduction
In fast pace digital world where business has gone even more competitive and risky, the need is of predictable strategic methodologies. Design of Experiment (DOE) is one such strategic method that provides strategists a road map to condition their business process. It is a systematic method to improve business activity.
How it happens, how DOE help managers improve their business. This is one question in our focus, determining how much effectively DOE impacts a business, in the contemporary world where uncertainty and competition are two unavoidable factors.

What is Design of Experiment (DOE)?
Design of Experiment is a statistical method to breakdown factors affecting a process. It is one method to isolate inputs from outcome of a process. DOE is a systematic toolkit to recognize most influential factors in process, knowing how alternative strategy could be designed to improve those factors, improving overall process efficiency and outcome.
DOE talks about relationship between influential factors. It visualizes the cause-and-effect relationships in order to improve the process stages. Each stage of process could be modified, improved using DOE strategic identification. What factors are causing more problem and which should be managed more statistically is all done using DOE.

Design of Experiment for Business Process Improvement
There are mainly two types of factors that affects a business process, extrinsic factors and intrinsic factors. Extrinsic factors are those which impact from outside of the business environment. Intrinsic factors describe instinct of a business, they describe the very nature of how a business proceeds and transgresses. At the first stage, Design of Experiment identifies and recognizes these two type of influential factors. It helps managers understand the influence on business from both outside and inside.

The following is how Design of Experiment outlines the influence on business:
DoE - Business Process

The following above factors are considered as influence on business. They form comprehensive business environment. After identification of influence, the next step is to apply the DOE model for improvement.

Design of Experiment (DOE) to boosting Business Process
1. Identification of Business Problem – Asking an Empirical Question:
Design of Experiment in business begins from asking an empirical question, a question that could be answered conducting an experiment. How our performance management system reduces our annual employee turnover rate? How much our performance management system increases employee motivation? How employee motivation increases organizational performance are all empirical questions that DOE could start investigating.

2. Adapting Change for Observation:
Let’s consider example of a retail store which introduces new brochures to make customers aware about their special discount offers. They may first use small brochures with attractive taglines to understand if customers understand them well. Small brochures with attractive taglines would make the test case. The experiment could be designed in accordance for observation. DOE helps businesses adapt the change and see if this change could be implemented producing desired outcomes “customers start buying discounted offers”.

Consider the Interactions
The greatest advantage of Design of Experiments over traditional experiments is its allowance of analyzing the synergized impacts of the various factors on the responses. When many factors are in play together, finding out the combinations of factors that manage to inflict the most affect is crucial.
The team needs to carefully prioritize the interactions they want to test. If you are using DOE software, it is best to run the experiment for all the possible interactions of factors.

Determining alternatives in Observation
If customers are unable to acknowledge your special discount offers, let’s try larger brochures with small attractive taglines. This is second alternative or a new adaptive strategy. This is how DOE assists in creating, assessing and proposing the change needed in business. DOE assists in framing the new strategic change to receive desired business outcome.

3 Areas to work on DoE

Design of Experiment helps managers improve three segments of business which are people, process and technology. These three are managed with influence during DOE. People are the most important to be managed as from people influences are carried away to processes and technology. If the workforce is managed with change, change is inevitable in processes and technology of the business. Managing these three streams of business during DOE could boost the overall business process, the business outcome.

Step-by-Step Guide to DoE (Design of Experiments)

DOE or Design of experiments helps identify the various factors that affect the productivity and the outcomes of a particular process or a design. The individual influence of the factors as well as the interactive power of these factors to influence the outcome comes to light through an efficient design of experiment.
The trial and error approach of the past to consequently achieve the desired productivity and efficiency is obsolete. The sophisticated statistical approach taken by DOE makes it convenient for the businesses to design, conduct and analyze the experiments that can help multiply the output.
Here is a systematic, step-by-step guide to design a fruitful experiment.

Set Objectives
Clearly defined goals and objectives of the experiment are important to get the intended answer. A comprehensive brain storming session or an interactive meeting can help the team prioritize the goals.
The type of design of the experiment depends heavily on your objectives.
Comparative Design: It lets you compare between two or more factors or effects to find out the one with the greatest impact.
Screening Design: It is vital when you are dealing with many factors and want to filter out a few important ones.
Response Surface Modeling: Typically employed when you want to maximize or minimize a response.
Regression Modeling: It is used to help figure out the degrees of dependence of a response on the factors.

Choose Your Variables
The next step is to shortlist your variables. Choose your input i.e. factors and your output i.e. responses carefully, as this will define the efficacy and usability of your experiment.
Setting the constraints or the range of the factors is vital. Two-level designs that involve a high and a low level for the factors seem to be the most efficient one, with +1 and -1 notations respectively.

Consider the Interactions
The greatest advantage of Design of Experiments over traditional experiments is its allowance of analyzing the synergized impacts of the various factors on the responses. When many factors are in play together, finding out the combinations of factors that manage to inflict the most affect is crucial.
The team needs to carefully prioritize the interactions they want to test. If you are using DOE software, it is best to run the experiment for all the possible interactions of factors.

Run the Experiment
Once you have decided upon the type of experiment and the most important input and output, it is time to simply run the experiment. Ensuring all the relevant data is accurate and in process, is vital to your results. Before running the experiment, go over the design one more time.
The team should come up with the minimum number of times to run the experiment to get any significant result. Run all the experiments with the same set of assumptions as well as factors and responses.

Analyze the Results
After the necessary runs of your experiment have been carried out, the next obvious step is the analysis of the data obtained because of the experiment. Graphs and diagrams can help you greatly assess the data.
Histograms, flowcharts as well as scatter diagrams can give an insight on the effects of various factors on different responses. Try to find correlations between input and output, the interactive impacts of the many factors as well as the magnitude of affects on the responses.
Simple and step-by-step approach to design of experiments efficiently lets you test out the different ways in to improve a particular process. The results and findings of an experiment allow you to make the necessary tweaks and adjustments in a system to improve the yield.

Business Benefits of MSA – Measurement System Analysis

Let’s look at Measurement System Analysis, and how it fits into continuous process improvements for a business. Since measurements and the collection of data are important to continuous improvement programs, we should have an interest in Measurement System Analysis.

We use measurements to guide our decision on improvements and should be interested in the errors there are in measurements so we can make better decisions. If there are errors in our measurements, there could be errors in our decision. So let’s look now at Measurement System Analysis as it attempts to show the quality of measurements and how accurate and precise they are.

What it is
Measurement System Analysis is a method of looking at variation in a measurement process. Some groups such as the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG.org) provide guidelines on what percent error is acceptable, such as less than 10 percent. 10 to 30 percent error could be too high for some applications. Over 30 percent error could be unacceptable for all applications.

When you complete a Measurement System Analysis, you perform an experiment to show measurement variation. You should make sure you understand the data you collect could have errors. Measurement System Analysis can help you figure out how many errors.

Measurement System Analysis is a component of Six Sigma approaches that attempt to reduce or eliminate defects and errors.

How the analysis can help
When you complete such an analysis you can better select what measurement you want to use when you go through a process improvement.

Imagine you work with a group that is trying to increase the number of usable parts they make in a day. A team determines to collect data on the variables they feel could help produce more parts. No matter what data they collect, they cannot find a link of variable to result. A Measurement System Analysis could show that the data you are collecting includes measurements that have errors. With this example you can see how a Measurement System Analysis could be helpful.

Some variations to consider
Accuracy is a key quality in data to consider. Bias is another word used to describe accuracy. As an example, if we took a scale that is off by 1 pound for every 100 pounds measured, for a 1000-pound measurement, the error would be 10 pounds. If you are measuring something that weighs even more the error would be proportional and possibly out of the range where it could be of use to you in a continuous improvement process.

Stability is another key quality of data to consider. If you are taking measurements over time you could see numbers that do not make sense. For example, you could be taking a measurement of weight that varies and does not make sense. Consider that the calibration of your scale could be drifting. You may need to calibrate more often.

This is a simplified way of explaining what variations could impact the quality of the data and measurements you collect.

A manufacturing industry tool
Concerning a Six Sigma improvement process, a standard tool is the gauge R&R study. R&R refers to repeatability and reproducibility. The tool uses an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and is sometimes called an ANOVA Gage R&R study. While the tool applies to gauges it can apply to other measurement instruments too.

Here are variables to consider where you could have variation and use a gauge R&R study.

1. The gauge itself
2. The people performing measurements
3. The method of recording

Repeatability is variation where one person takes a measurement and you compare that with another person taking the same measurement. Reproducibility is variation with different people, instruments, or locations taking the same measurements.

Gage R&R looks at the precision of a measurement system. It is a tool often used in Six Sigma projects.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Gage R&R

Repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) are important factors to consider for manufacturing companies around the world. During an audit, the company’s ability to carry on doing what they usually do is measured to determine if there are any anomalies or problems that need to be addressed. Today, there are numerous software available that enable companies to carry out Gage R&R, but still it is important to understand its basics.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to Gage R&R:
Addressing the Variables
The main reason why Gage R&R has gained importance for businesses is because it tracks the main variables in the production measuring process. The company’s capability and ability to repeat and reproduce determines how effectively they can continue completing the processes they perform. The idea being Gage R&R is to gauge the extent of the variation in the measuring processes. If the variation is beyond a certain level, then the business will have to take the necessary steps to reduce it or control it.
This is important because it covers any and every production measuring process the business uses. However, it is also crucial that you understand that this is not necessary for every gauge. For instance, there can be a large number of gauges for a small number of processes.

The Personnel
The main personnel involved in the Gage R&R process are the ones who measure during the production processes. For instance, your business may employ quality inspectors or you can engage the head of production. It all depends on the situation that you are dealing with at that time. In fact, it is advised that you use substitutes during the initial stages when you are trying out, and then engage the actual personnel.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who gathers the data that you will use for conducting the Gage R&R. However, it is recommended that you employ a calibration technician. The technician will be on hand to handle any queries and at the same time be able to use the software or any tool you are using for the process. It goes without saying that the personnel you engage for Gage R&R should have complete command over the measurement processes. You will have to guide them about the part that you need them to measure.

Your Step-By-Step Guide to Gage R&R
You have to keep the cost of the trial in mind when deciding the parameters. It is up to you to determine the number of parts, operators and measurements that you will use. The factors that you can consider when making a decision include, besides cost, the situation in which you are conducting the Gage R&R and the number of measurements required to get accurate results. Once this phase is completed, you have to gather the data you will need for the measurements. For this, it is important that the data is arranged randomly.

 

The Calculation Method

You can choose from three options when it comes to a calculation method. Generally, businesses opt for the Average and Range method. This is often recommended when you are using spreadsheets for the process. It provides accurate results, but, at the same time, is not the ideal method if you are using software. The second method is Range, but it is only utilized in certain scenarios. The third method is the one that requires the most effort. This is called the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). If you are using a tool or software, ANOVA is the way to go.
Depending on the calculation method you use for Gage R&R, you will have to draw the conclusions accordingly.

On Your Marks: Planning a Successful Six Sigma Project

 

 

If you’re new to Six Sigma, or just want to brush up, then this three-part guide will act as the perfect project toolkit, covering everything you need to know. But what goes into planning a Six Sigma project? That’s where we can help. Remember, the perfect plan is also a map to success!
Planning Team Work
Embarking on any Six Sigma project is not something we recommend doing alone. Six Sigma requires, at its most intrinsic level, a group effort for maximum process improvement. In fact, it is this very factor that ensures Six Sigma’s success, as it demands a continual group effort to evaluate, organize and communicate the needs and difficulties of the project.
Yet project managers often make the mistake of planning a Six Sigma project without assistance, which is one of the leading causes of failure for Six Sigma projects. Good planning takes time and effort, requiring extensive prep-work, and great leadership. Below we outline a few useful tips to help make your Six Sigma project a successful one:
Be sure to properly outline and document the scope of the project.
Be organized. Make use of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to document all aspects of the plan and any related communications.
Take everything into account. Leave no stone unturned. Communication, product quality control, customer reviews, reportage, and so on, must all be given equal attention.
Remain involved with the rest of the team. Complete all work in person. It is the responsibility of the project manager to oversee all aspects of planning, taking risks and deliverables into account. It is also up to you to manager and direct the rest of the team.
Management should be involved in the planning stage, not just when the project finally commences.
Sustained Improvement Requires Ongoing Effort
Your Six Sigma project plan is more than just something to get out of the way. It is an invaluable tool not to be underestimated. Your plan will function as a source of direction and information for your team to return to throughout the project. Look closely at what you learn about the project, take note of any changes of scope, amendments to the WBS, effects on stakeholder, as factors like this can have a big impact on the plan’s trajectory and ultimate direction. Take our advice when it comes to project plans: if there’s a plan, use it; if there’s not, make one (and use it).
Results: Aim High, Remain Focused
Invest your effort wisely: You should direct continual planning by both you and your team towards getting results. Consider these questions. What needs to be done to achieve the desired result? How will quality of work be maintained? Do tools, tests and techniques used relate to the project deliverables? Taking time to consider all aspects of the project, as opposed to just winging it, will ensure your project has the best plan, and the best results.

 

Get Your Business Competitive with Kaizen

Kaizen is an interesting method of improving your life and business. The word is Japanese and roughly translated means continuous change. When you break it down ‘Kai’ means change, and ‘zen’ means good, hence, Kaizen.

The method of making your business better with Kaizen might seem strange to someone that has never heard of it, but the results are definitely there for you to see for yourself. Essentially, it involves everyone within the company ranging from the CEO to the janitor evaluating their work and seeing where they can improve on a small scale. The key to this method is recognizing that routine small changes eventually lead to large beneficial changes over time.

It is a slow process starting out, but the key is continuous improvement instead of large changes all at once. What makes the Kaizen method different is the fact that the changes are submitted by the person doing the job, not a third party consulting team. The thought process behind this is that the employees know what works best in their position; after all, they do it every single day. They can give you insight that would otherwise be overlooked by a consulting team with no hands on experience in that particular position. If a situation arises and a worker is unsure of whether his or her idea is fruitful or not a brainstorming session between everyone in the position can be initiated. The quick brainstorm will help make the most of the employee’s idea. It is a good idea to do these brainstorming sessions regularly for the sake of the company and happiness of employees regardless.

If you are switching over from the traditional business method it is important to recognize how you begin the process of implementing Kaizen into your company. You need to get everyone together and give them a training course on what Kaizen is, and what practical benefits they can expect to get for themselves and the company with this line of thinking. You should be sure to stress that this isn’t a project made to be completed, it is an ongoing process that will ensure that the company remains fresh and relevant from within. After you have explained to your employees what Kaizen is you should go on to explain how they are to submit their changes, when they can expect to see the changes implemented, and how quickly they can expect feedback on their suggestion if necessary.

There are a number of great benefits that come with using this method for running your business. You can expect to save a ton of money for many different reasons. First, you will not need to waste money on consulting firms, meaning that is extra money you can use for your business or as a bonus for employees with the best ideas. Secondly, you will save money because these small changes usually cost a lot less than big drastic changes, which is always a plus.

Next, you can expect to have more productive employees. They will feel valued and as if their opinions actually count for something. Any business owner or manager will tell you that when you have more productive employees you are going to see better results in customer service, productivity, and overall morale within your team.

When it comes down to it, the Kaizen method has shown time and time again to be successful. It can take some time getting used to it, but when it is all settled you will wonder why you did not switch to this method of thinking and growth years ago. The results speak for themselves.

Understanding the Most Important Elements of Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management philosophy that strives to achieve the best possible results by centering all business activities and processes on customer satisfaction. Proper TQM implementation involves constant improvement and all members of the particular organization and expected to take part in the process. The main idea behind this approach is that the best way to long-term success is through providing a high quality product or service that meets the needs and requirement of the customer. Thus, everything in TQM is defined through the lens of customer satisfaction.
TQM has 8 core elements that are grouped together in four groups as part of a building metaphor:

First Group: Foundation

As every building requires a foundation, every business philosophy requires some value to inform its approach to the world and its own organization. TQM institutes three foundational elements to its metaphorical building that foster productive attitudes and atmosphere.

Ethics
Ethics is the study of right and wrong and TQM places importance on understanding what is the ethical thing to do both as an organization and as individuals in the context of the organization. As the organization recognizes the need to operate in a morally good way, it is expected to institute a clear code of conduct.

Integrity
While ethics is more concerned with knowing what is right, integrity focuses on acting according to the company values in a honest and open environment. Office drama, rumors or other forms of interpersonal hostility are to be frowned upon.

Trust
The successful implementation of TQM requires a relationship of trust among the individuals that are part of the organization. In order for teams to be able to improve and provide a high quality product or service to the customers, they need to work together in an atmosphere of trust. If that requirement is met, problem recognition, problem solution and decision making all become easier.

Second Group: Bricks

As the bricks are the main building block used to create and bear the weight of a house, the bricks in the TQM context rest on the foundation and support the whole structure.

Training
Training is essential for employees to be able to achieve high levels of quality and efficiency. Since TQM is an all-encompassing approach to business management, it requires all participants to receive the needed training from their superiors on how to as valuable to the organization and its customers as possible.

Teamwork
Achieving common goals and providing the highest level of customer service requires teams to work efficiently together. Individuals should know how to work together and the team environment should facilitate open discussions about both problems and solutions. There are 3 types of teams in a TQM organization: the temporarily formed Quality Improvement Teams and Problem Solving Teams and the more organic and long-lasting Natural Work Teams.

Leadership
While training and teamwork are essential for making member prepared to be a valuable part of an organization, leadership has a crucial role to play in harnessing that potential. All supervisors and managers should understand the TQM philosophy and methodology and should be able to implement them while clearly transmitting values, strategies, direction and goals to the teams they are responsible for.

Third Group: Mortar

Even when you have all the elements needed to construct an outstanding building, it is important for those elements to be bind together and this is the mortar’s job.

Communication
The all-encompassing mortar of the TQM building is communication. It starts from the foundation, surrounds the bricks and reaches the roof. The only way to continues improvement and optimal performance is for information and ideas to flow freely. Communication should the ever-present in the organization, but it should also involve all external entities like customers, partners and suppliers.

Fourth Group: Roof

What tops off a building is the roof which in the case of TQM is its last key element – recognition.

Recognition
This element involves the positive feedback and encouragement that both achievements and suggestions should result in inside the organization. All supervisors should look for and detect contributions and should provide recognition whenever they are made. This boosts both morale and performance. It gives member of the organization motivation to continue to participate productively in the TQM implementation.

Step-By-Step Guide to VSM – Value Stream Mapping

 

When people that don’t fully grasp process optimization systems think about the topic, they often mistakenly pay the most attention to cutting out the unneeded parts. Obviously this is a gross oversimplification, when it comes to methodologies like Lean Six Sigma, and it places the emphasis on the wrong indicator. The most important goal of this approach to business operations is creating and retaining value. The emphasis is on achieving efficiency and value. While cutting out some unnecessary expenses might be a part of it, it’s a means, not an end.
And since value is such an important metric, it’s important to have a way of visualizing and understanding the creation of value in a tangible way. Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a visualization tool that facilitates that. It comes from the Lean methodology, and its function is to show the process the way it currently is. Followed by how it should be. The best way to understand it is to learn how to do it step-by-step.

Step 1: Preliminary Research
Before approaching any task or topic, one should devote some time to preparation and such is the case with Value Stream Mapping. So before starting the actual process of mapping, you should arm yourself with the data that is easily available. Make sure you have access to and familiarity with as much product data for your organization as possible without making a burden to yourself.
You need this because you need to identify the product or the product family that you are going to be mapping and subsequently improving. Data about volumes, turnover and margins is important since it makes a lot of sense to start your optimization efforts where they will have the highest impact which is the products with the highest values for some or all of those metrics.

Step 2: Create a Product Flow Chart
After you have selected the product or product family to create a VSM for, you should start mapping out the operational flow it goes through while moving through your organization. The best way to approach it is by starting with the boundaries.
First you need to identify how the process starts, what or who triggers it and how. Identifying who triggers is and what value are they looking to extract after doing so is paramount. Most of the time the agent will be the customer, but sometimes it might be the last step of another process, a member of the team or an external agent that is not a customer per se.
Then you should identify how the process concludes. Besides being the end of the activity, the last step of map would also include the value that the agent that started the process is supposed to be extracting in one way or another.
After the boundaries are clear it should be easier to map out all the steps that lead the product from start to end. The process steps should have information about the various stages the product goes through and one step should correspond to one operation.

Step 3: Enhance the Flow Chart with Additional Layers of Data
Besides the actual operations, it’s essential to inscribe a lot of additional information into your map for it to be as useful as possible. Time, resources, frequencies, volumes, customer demand and all important metrics and should be reflected on your representation of the process. Additionally, it’s important to map not only the product flow, but also the information flow. How requirements, specifications and demands are communicated within and without the organization is essential for full understanding of the process and usually lends itself to a lot of improvement and optimization.

Step 4: Get Your Hand Dirty
As the first 3 steps so far have been mainly theoretical, it’s very important to continue and test your VSM in practice. Get involved and observe the operation flow in practice and compare your empirical observations with your chart, making all the necessary adjustments. With this step you are ready with the “As Is” part of your VSM which reflects the current state of affairs.

Step 5: Future State
After you have gathered the all the information about the current process and have it mapped out in a comprehensive way, analysis becomes much easier and you can see the big picture. This means that you can now spot bottlenecks, inefficiencies and waste and think of ways to improve the current process eliminating the problems discovered. Doing so will lead you to create a second version of your Value Stream Map that is going to reflect the process as you would like it to be or in other words – its Future State.

Step 6: Implementation
After having understood and mapped out all the data available, the current state of affairs and the current problems and after having devised a Future State you would like to achieve, you should move on to implementing it. Divide the improvement into manageable segments, so you your team can understand them better and devise your implementation plan in phases. Keep monitoring all key metrics while undergoing the transformation.

How to successfully approach 5S in Lean Six Sigma

5S and Lean Six Sigma are all part of a process to improve the workplace. There are numerous steps to both of these processes, but once you have a full understanding of them you will have a business that is constantly growing and improving. The main factor to remember about both of these methods, as well as the Kaizen method, is they are about small changes over time. Instead of big instant changes, these focus on small changes that make a big difference over time, which is much better than drastic changes a couple times every year.

In order to understand how these methods help your business, it is important to know what they are and how they work. 5S is a process that involves maintaining your business through 5 Japanese words seiri (sort), seiton (set in order), seiso (shine), seiketsu (standardize), and shitsuke (sustain). These 5 words all reflect a different step in implementing the changes in your business. If you follow them with care you will see measurable results in no time.

Focusing on the Lean Six Sigma as it relates to the process, the first S, sort, is the important step to keep in mind. Lean Six Sigma focuses on removing waste from the workplace. There are 8 types of waste this method seeks to remove. The 8 types are transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over-processing, defects, and skills. They all have a significant impact on business and how your company grows, so the best thing you can possibly do is get it under control as soon as possible.

There are multiple ways that you can get these key waste points under control. The first thing you should do is talk to your employees and give them some control over the situation. They understand what needs to be done; this is their day to day job. If anyone would be able to identify the problem areas as it pertains to waste it would be your regular employees.

You could erect a bulletin board for suggestions and areas of opportunity in each individual area. This will allow all of the employees to bring their ideas together and help you move forward with small changes to remove the waste that might be clogging up your production line. Once the employee submits their concerns and solutions, take some time to read them over carefully. They are going to have the most realistic ideas and solutions. Many companies like seeking the help of organization firms for this, and while it sounds good in practice, it really doesn’t work out. These people do not stand in the shoes of your employees every day, so they may overlook something simple that can save you thousands of dollars. You will save even more money just by not hiring a firm to do what your employees are more than capable of doing.

Once you are able to tackle the first big S on the 5S list you can start moving on to the other four. The rest include implementing solutions, working on other ways to advance the company through small changes, making the workspace safer, and of course following up.

If you are able to work with your employees to make sure all of these steps are being followed you will see a significant boost in customer service, employee morale, profits, and overall, have a better place to work. No one wants to feel stressed whenever they get to work. These solutions will help alleviate some of that stress and help bring out the maximum potential in your company and the people working for you.

Kaizen: Eliminate Waste and Improve Your Project

Waste is everywhere. It affects countless companies, sometimes without anyone knowing about it. But it doesn’t have to affect your company too. Using Kaizen, you can achieve a state of total waste elimination and process improvement. Today, we will teach you the basics of good waste management.

The Types of Waste

To understand how to eliminate waste for your business, and thus generate improvement, it is necessary to understand the types of waste that affect it. The most common types of waste are:

  • Transport – Startup processes and handovers can often become sluggish and bogged down by waste.
  • Inventory – It’s important to manage your inventory, especially workload. If you don’t evenly distribute work, it can stall production.
  • Movement/Waiting– Simple actions such as moving from one department to another (even from one desk to the next!) can contribute to waste over time. Waiting for colleagues, suppliers, etc. can be just as wasteful.
  • Over-Processing/Overproduction – How much time do you really need to spend on each stage of production? Are certain steps unnecessary? Over-Processing (making something better than necessary) can lead to delay. Also, if you deliver more than what is asked for (or even going as far to deliver something that was not asked for!) it could be waste.
  • Defects – Variation, or defects, in production can lead to loss of profit and buildup of waste, which is why Kaizen, in unison with Lean Six Sigma methodology, should be used to eliminate defects as they are discovered, and prevent more in the future.
  • Talent – Talent wasted on work that is without value is not the best way to go about improving your company. Take advantage of your employees’ skills and put them to good use. Eliminate unnecessary steps and focus on how you can get the best results as a team.

Using Kaizen to Eliminate Waste

You now know what the different types of waste are, but how do we eliminate them using Kaizen? Kaizen is an evolutionary approach calling for gradual, continuous improvement by eliminating the waste. Remember, it is better to improve everything by 1% than just one process by 100%.

You can break Kaizen down into the following steps, in order to help you better understand how waste elimination works:

  • Recognize opportunities – Once you become adept at using Kaizen philosophy in practice, you will become more aware of the types of waste that affect your company. You will then be able to recognize, identify, and eliminate waste accordingly.
  • Analyze the process(es) – Scrutinize your production processes. Assess them critically. What is working? What isn’t? How does this affect the rest of production? What problems can you identify?
  • Develop and test optimal solution(s) – Using the above knowledge, you can then develop innovative solutions to help maximize your production. Testing the solution may take time, requiring you to slow down production in the short-term, for greater benefit later.
  • Study findings – Once you have implemented the solution, assess your findings. Did you improve production, and can you recognize any remaining waste yet to be eliminated.
  • Standardize solution(s) – Once you’re certain that an improvement has been made, you can then standardize your solution. Remember to make sure you train employees before implementing it across the entire production line. You can then plan for future occurrences, to prevent relapse.