Continuous Improvement and Kaizen

Executive Summary

The major topic for this paper is to apply knowledge concept and idea of Berger (1997) “Continuous improvement and kaizen” to Master Cooling Sdn. Bhd. There is no improvement on work process and getting more complaints by customer on long process method support from this company. Berger (1997) implemented 3 principles on continuous improvement by process-oriented, improving and maintaining standards and people oriented. The major components for Master Cooling Sdn. Bhd. apply to its business are to maintenance functions where management should come out a standard operation procedure and everyone have to follow the SOP.

Introduction / Preamble

Continuous improvement and Kaizen model is an integral element in Kaizen strategy which received much attention and application around the operation management practise. ‘Kaizen’ is Japanese terms on continuous improvement especially with respect to product, process, standardization, visual control, setup reduction, total productive maintenance and work design. Jha et al. (1996) state that increasing competitive challenge facing in all kind of businesses and rising expectations set by governments and public sector organizations forcing organization to improve their effectiveness and efficiency by all means possible.

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However continuous improvement on organizations is not an individual work task. It was a system that every employee from upper management to the cleaning crew. The improvement on changes or result is not a month or a year activity. It is continuous improving productivity, safety and effectiveness while reducing unnecessary waste. According Imai (1986), "The Kaizen philosophy is to "do it better, make it better, and improve it even if it isn't broken, because if we don't, we can't compete with those who do.

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State Of Knowledge

Process Orientation

As mentioned by Davenport (1993), process is a structured that measured a set of activities designed to produce a specified outcomes for a particular customer or market. According to Imai (1986), before results can be improved, processes must be improved. However a good results lacking control of the process is insufficient as there are unknown factors. Berger (1997) suggested that there is at least two practical consequences for improvement in processes.

First, fully support by management and effort of organization is a main responsibility to improve processes. To improve, a process must be fully understand in detail which means activities and methods used to combine people, machines, materials and information have to be known and controlled. All parties related to this process required to actively involve in order to improving the coming process. Simple process oriented methods like “seven quality tools” (see Figure 1) is a designation suitable for people with little training used to solve variety of quality related issues. Others tools and techniques such as flowcharting and brainstorming are commonly used.

Figure 1: The Seven Basic Quality Control Tools

Second, evaluating criteria which can monitor and not only can bring attention to improvement process itself however it also can acknowledge the direction of the improvement result. Total number of feedback, implementation, and participant’s rates for evaluating the improvement process which indicates that kaizen is a management system to measure employee motivation to improve their daily work processes.

Improving and Maintaining Standards

To achieve competiveness advantage in an industry, we must seek to improve and maintain self profession in a standard performance level. Berger (1997) state that ‘there are three general characteristics to maintain the standard performance level’:-

  • Individual authorization and responsibility.
  • Enhanced learning through the transmittal, accumulation and deployment of experience from one individual to another, between individuals and the organization and from one part of the organization to another.
  • Discipline.

In order to support the above mention, Plan, Do, Check and Act is used to examine system and processes to help to derive the problem, investigate the issue, verify carefully on what worked and what did not work and ensure corrective action is taken.

Figure 2: The Diming Cycle

The Deming cycle framework (see Figure 2) “wheel” of never ending process improvements repeatedly questioning and requestioning the detailed working became popular symbol for kaizen to work as standardization of the improvement process. To effectively use of a common problem solving process PDCA, Pescod (1994) (see table 1) list down the step in each PDCA, create question in each PDCA and answer all the question created in each step, list down the key activities to overcome the issue and use the seven basic quality control tools or others techniques to find out the best solution.

Table 1: Typical Problem-solving Process

After completed PDCA cycle, the result is communicating to formal organization through suggestion system and executes the new improvement process. In order to maintain standard in a part of work, standard work procedure have to be come out and improvement on standard work never ends if there is effectiveness way on doing daily works especially use external experience to motivate sustainability. This standard operation work procedure need to establish throughout all areas and post visual displays to support standards in your operation especially in production line. Trainer need to be confident and committed to train others how to follow and maintaining standard of work.

People Orientation

To effectively execute continuous improvement in an organization, everyone should be involves from top management to workers at the bottom floor. According to Imai (1986), “kaizen is based on belief in people’s inherent desire for quality and worth. However management has to believe that it is going to “pay” in the long run”.

Berger (1997) stated that there are two practical features can derive from these principles.

First, assign hold team leaders responsible for ongoing improvements by make use of everyone’s contribution. According to Imai (1986), there are three types of kaizen activities on its own form and focus in overall improvement process. •Management-oriented kaizen: concerns improvement of systems procedures. •Group-oriented kaizen: Permanent approach and small group activities which employees focus on improving work methods however temporary approach involves teams of employees targeted on a special problem. •Individual-oriented kaizen: is a large extent with suggestion systems focus to improve one’s own work.

Second, behaviour and attitude motivation is how people feel and think. It is how they feel about the future and how they react to the pass. Berger (1997) argues that Japanese approach to motivation is to avoid volunteerism and everyone should be involved. Skill development and rewards system is a key effort to increase motivation for worker to participate in improvements activities. Based on Japanese culture, manager seniority and high discipline can force a majority of workers in improvement. However for Western interpretation commonly volunteerism and interest for joining in improvement activities. Research shows that individuals driven by internal or intrinsic motivation engage in seeking and conquering optimal challenges (Deci and Ryan, 1985)

Application To Real Business Situation

Background of Business Situation

Master Cooling Sdn Bhd is an air conditioning company and its main business is to rectify and overhauling the air conditioning compressor in the office workshop. Due to high competiveness and high expectation from customer, Master Cooling Sdn Bhd need to improve its workshop due to the workshop was operating more than 20 years without any improvement in it operation procedure and building maintenance.

Process Identification

As mention earlier, improvement process requires involve from top management until workers at the bottom floor. All peoples have to sit down and list down current process flow and where is the process flow burst. A team leader has to assign to lead and focus on overall improvement process. All of the peoples have to walk around identify issues, share them, brainstorm ideal layout for workshop, eliminate unnecessary items and only keep for the items required for work, re-organize for necessary items following work flow, labeling and placing to sign board.

Mission and Goals

The mission is to set the direction and boundaries for the team’s workshop. Management requires to reviews and approves the mission so that improvement process can be executes. The following is the example of the mission:-

  • Improve 5S in the workshop.
  • Re-layout workshop base on customer and EH&S requirement.
  • Implement Standard Work Instruction by posted on new notice board at workshop.
  • Enhance Total Prevention Maintenance (TPM) system on tools and equipment.
  • Improve working safety condition at workshop.
  • Increase work space in workshop.
  • Design new pallets for compressor storage.

The purpose for goals is to provide measurable milestones for the team to accomplish within a specific time frame. To do so, we need to identify specific items on team needs to work and to accomplish the mission. Measure the current values i.e. (time, square footage, yield, etc.). Decide where the team needs to be at the end of the improvement activity.

Example Statement Of The Major Problems And Tools Using To Overcome Problem Major ProblemTool Using

  • No clear sign board5S Evaluation
  • Many unnecessary items in place and no maintenance on machineTPM, 5S
  • Evaluation Not the refreshing environment5S Evaluation
  • Work flow is not clearVSM,
  • Work progress is not clearStandard Work
  • Not safety on loading unloading compressorStandard Work, EHS Improper tools arrangementTPM, 5S Evaluation
  • Visibility at workshop is dark5S Evaluation
  • Supply switch board very old and cannot lock out tag out.EHS Customer waits for long queue on collecting or compressor checking by specialist at workshop.VSM, Part Spaghetti Sheet,

S Evaluation

The purpose of this tool is to help maintain and sustain work place organization. We can utilize a standard 5S evaluation form to determine the rating of the work area. Example scale rate each item from 0 to 5. 0 = poor; 5 = excellent. Try to answer the questions in each column starting at the bottom of the form. Score your assessment using the counter in the lower right hand corner of every section (0-1). Partial scoring is permissible. Add up total score of each column and divide by 5 to get the average 5S rating for the Target Progress Report. Table 2 shows the definition of 5S. Definition of 5S:

  1. SortEliminate item’s which are not needed.
  2. StraightenCreate a place for needed things.
  3. ShineClean and make it easy to keep things clean.
  4. StandardizeMaintain and monitor the first 3 S’s.
  5. Sustain Stick to the rules. Self Discipline. Table 2: Definition of 5S

Total Prevention Maintenance (TPM)

TPM is a system designed to decrease unplanned downtime by utilizing a scheduled planned maintenance program. The purpose is to reduce defects and maintain material flow. Table 3 shows how the TPM works on daily operation in workshop. 1. Initial Cleaning 5S the machine and surrounding area 2. Daily Walk-around Operator check list to their monitor machine. 3. Planned MaintenanceCreate a planned maintenance schedule. 4. Machine
capability Evaluate the machine’s process variation range. 5. Critical Spare Parts Identify the typical parts wear out historically. Table 3: Framework of TPM

Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Value stream mapping is a tool commonly used in lean continuous improvement programmes to help understand and improve the material and information flow within organizations. To help illustrate the Value Stream Map in this scenario we need to list down the actual condition on the work flow and what is the total lead time to finish the whole process work. Analyse current flow and eliminate unnecessary procedure to reduce the lead time. Or find a best solution to shorten the lead time for the whole process. Figure 3 & 4 show the example before and after of the VSM improvement on work process.

Figure 3 Current VSM Flow

Figure 4 Future VSM Flow

Standard Work

Standard work is a method of carrying out work consistently using current best practices from both process and product knowledge. The purpose of standard work is to graphically show the standard flow of man, materials and machines in the work area. To apply on this method we need to indicate quality checks, safety warnings, number of operators, machines and part flow. The three components of standard operations are takt time, work sequence and standard work in process. The goals of standard work are simplify work to ensure sustained quality, consistency and repeatability. However we also need to identify/eliminate waste and eliminate non-value added activity. All changes incorporating new best practices have to be documented and shared.

Part Spaghetti Chart

The purpose of this chart is to graphically illustrate the flow of product through the factory while identifying value and non-value added steps in an effort to highlight waste. To use this tool, walk the process and follow the “star part”. Use the following techniques to document the current process (Figure 5):

  • make a sketch as you go to each point throughout the shop.
  • mark up a copy of the factory layout.
  • Measure the travel distance in feet between each process.

Figure 5: Part Spaghetti Chart

Kaizen Newspaper

Kaizen newspaper is a great way to summarise the mission created and problem stated improvement actions that you intend to make happen in a particular work area. The purpose of Kaizen newspaper is to:

  • Assigning improvement activity.
  • Create action quickly.
  • Tracking on activity and level of completion.
  • Maintain team momentum and motivation when there is an improvement on problem solve. For each continuous improvement activity, all the detail needs to be added as below example show: #Problem StatementSolutionOwnerDue DateStatus

After Kaizen newspaper has been set up, it need to be situated where everyone can know what the progress on each continuous activities is.


Imai (1986) stated that there is no single day should go by without any kind of improvement being made. In view of the above implementation on the knowledge to Master Cooling Sdn. Bhd. management should rewards whoever that can improve their work system by above mention tools to reduce the lead time and cost efficiency on their daily work. Higher management also have to create a success story on certain process innovation involves a drastic improvement in the existing process to motivate their employee.

Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Cite this page

Continuous Improvement and Kaizen. (2016, Oct 16). Retrieved from

Continuous Improvement and Kaizen essay
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