Supplier Open Forum
Meeting Customer Expectations:
Tools for Supplier Process Improvement
Retail Open Forum
The Value of Compliance Data
2013 Spring Conference
The Kaizen Process – How Can This Help You?
By Ronald M. Marotta, Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc.
What is kaizen1? Kaizen, Japanese for "improvement" or "change for the better," refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management. It has been applied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life coaching, government, banking, and other industries. When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all functions, and involves all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers. It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain. By improving standardized activities and processes, kaizen aims to eliminate waste (muda2). Kaizen was first implemented in several Japanese businesses after World War II, influenced in part by American business and quality management teachers who visited the country. It has since spread throughout the world and is now being implemented in many other venues beside business and productivity; in fact, Toyota was the one of the pioneers of kaizen.
This process has been part of our culture supported by a PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) KPI. The steps in each successive PDCA cycle are:
Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the expected output (the target or goals). By establishing output expectations, the completeness and accuracy of the specification is also a part of the targeted improvement. When possible, start on a small scale to test possible effects.
Implement the plan, execute the process, and make the product. Collect data for charting and analysis in the following the "check" and "act" steps.
Study the actual results (measured and collected in "do" above) and compare against the expected results (targets or goals from the "plan") to ascertain any differences. Look for deviation in implementation from the plan and look for the appropriateness and completeness of the plan to enable the execution, i.e., "do." Charting data can make this much easier to see trends over several PDCA cycles and in order to convert the collected data into information. Information is what you need for the next step "act."
Request corrective actions on significant differences between actual and planned results. Analyze the differences to determine their root causes. Determine where to apply changes that will include improvement of the process or product. When a pass through these four steps does not result in the need to improve, the scope to which PDCA is applied may be refined to plan and improve with more detail in the next iteration of the cycle or attention needs to be placed in a different stage of the process.
In our business processes, we use this with our customers in reviewing their current processes and suggesting improvements in our kaizen approach and best practices we have learned from others. Collaboration is also sharing in adding value to business processes, whether it is KPI's, scorecarding, accurate data, or shared results, in our PDCA methodology.
"None of us is as smart as all of us."3 As a team, we share ideas. We share challenges. We come up with action plans based on PDCA planning. Assignments are made and actions follow; they are checked until results are delivered, usually beyond expectations, in a flawless process.
Collaborating with any service provider is based on their ability to add value and deliver the service you purchased. It's all about enjoying the experience of working with someone – someone who can be a long-term partner and have a continuous improvement process that keeps adding value. You need someone that knows your business as a true collaboration partner.
Kaizen will help in challenging your current process and PDCA will help you in measuring any project you need to improve on in your company. Tackle the root cause of any problem you are having, plan out solutions, assign teams for results, measure those results, and continue to circle back to improve your problem until it's corrected.
Ronald M. Marotta
Ronald M. Marotta is the Vice President of Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc., International Division, an NYK Group Company, responsible for the Origin Cargo Management Group and is based in Secaucus, NJ. Ron also serves as the NYK Group's Commercial Council Office Leader and works with all NYK Group Companies in their efforts to collaborate and provide integrated global logistics services to our mutual customers. Ron began his career at NYK almost twenty years ago as the General Manager of OCS of America, Inc. and helped to transform one of the original consolidators in Asia, into a modern consolidator and cargo logistics company.
Over the past 19 years, Yusen Logistics has grown their international business over 1,100% and extended their service reach throughout the globe. Ron can be contacted at (201) 553-3803.