Continuous Improvement

The ongoing process/philosophy of doing things better, faster, and cheaper.

Comments: A Lean Manufacturing system or organization will usually effect many large-scale and far-reaching changes while implementing Lean as a company directive. After the big “bang for the buck” Lean tools have been implemented there can be a tendency toward complacency. A structured Continuous Improvement process enables an organization to refine and enhance the benefits they now enjoy as a Lean company through usually small and incremental changes within the system.

Example: Stamping press #8 typically produces 27 parts per minute (ppm) but “Takt Time” tells us we now need 30 ppm. The press is already running “at capacity” so a decision must be made to purchase a similar press or somehow get 3 more ppm out of press #8.

Using a Continuous Improvement Process a Kaizen Team would carefully examine the possibility of getting more production out of the machine before buying another one. Perhaps replacing worn belts, hydraulic pumps, regulators, shortening the “stroke” of the machine, or any number of other fixes would improve the machine enough to avoid buying a new one to meet current demand.