The Power Of The Continuous Improvement Event

The continuous improvement event (CIE), called the Kaizen event by some, has proven to be a valuable tool for introducing positive change in an organization. Such an event targets a specific area in the organization where employees can work together to implement improvements quickly.

Columns From: 8/1/2006 Modern Machine Shop,

The continuous improvement event (CIE), called the Kaizen event by some, has proven to be a valuable tool for introducing positive change in an organization. Such an event targets a specific area in the organization where employees can work together to implement improvements quickly.

 

Waste
Type of Waste
Leave work area to get hardware
Excess motion, excess part
transportation
Many parts sitting between two operations Overproduction, excess inventory
Look for wrench Excess motion
Get paperwork Excess motion
Repair part Defect, over processing

The CIE begins with the selection of a team. The team must be clear on the objective of the event, namely to make things better.

The team should take a “waste walk” through the area to identify any type of waste that might be present, such as overproduction, excess inventory, defects, excess operator motion or extensive part travel. A simple process flow map is helpful for recording the flow of material, people, supplies and equipment. A simple waste summary sheet, such as the one shown below, will ensure that wastes are properly noted.

The next step is to go through the list of wastes and take action to eliminate or reduce as many as possible. This need not be an overwhelming task if it is taken in small steps. Waste activities such as “go and get” should be replaced by “reach for” activities, which will lead to an increase in point-of-use storage of tools, supplies and equipment. Waste activities such as “pick up, put down and pick up again” present opportunities for workholding devices that allow parts to be picked up once and not put down until they are finished. Temporary solutions involving blocks of wood or cardboard can demonstrate the practicality of concepts that can be made permanent later. Waste activities such as “look for” or “find” can be addressed with visual storage techniques such as shadow boards (which can be configured from cardboard or wood), or “right-sized” containers (which may already be on-site). Waste activities such as building batches that sit and wait for the next process can be reduced with the use of kanbans, or devices that physically restrict the number of items that can build up between processes. Kanbans can be as simple as empty bins, outlines on floors or workbenches, or open rack space.

At this point, the arrangement of benches and small equipment can be changed if appropriate. The need for relocating large machines, or other extensive improvement efforts, may be beyond the capacity of the CIE format, in which case it must be planned for a later time. Such activities should be listed as follow-up events on the CIE summary. The summary is critical in communicating what was done during the event and applying lessons learned to other areas of the organization. A CIE summary may look something like the chart above.

The CIE takes time and impacts production. However, the benefits will far outweigh the short term loss in production.

Waste Type of waste  Solution Complete by
Leave work area to get hardware Excess motion, excess part transportation Store right-size hardware inventory at station using two-bin system check 
Many parts sitting between two operations Overproduction, excess inventory Use kanban to control level of work in process:
Follow up: Move spot welder next to assembly bench
check
mm/dd/yr
Look for wrench Excess motion Add tool board at each station check
Get paperwork Excess motion Clip clear envelope to bench check
Repair part Defect, over
processing
Display photo of good part and commonly occurring errors to watch for mm/dd/yr
check-indicates completed task
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