Kaizen – Continuous Improvement in the Chemical Industry

25th February 2014

Manufacturing

Kaizen-lean-manufacturing-podcasts

‘Kaizen’ is a Japanese term used to define continuous small changes that can lead to ongoing improvement. It doesn’t matter how small these changes may be, as long as they are a step in a positive direction.

In the workplace, kaizen signifies the daily activity of every employee at each level and is a way for all employees to take responsibility for the small improvements in a company, by continuously driving progress and benefiting the company as a whole.

Kaizen incorporates the idea of a “lean” workplace and is a part of the day-to-day culture here at ReAgent. The idea of being lean in the manufacturing industry involves eliminating waste and reducing production time and expenses in order to increase productivity and quality of products.

“When applied to the work life, kaizen means continuing improvement involving everyone- managers and workers alike.”
Masaaki Imai

A Lean Culture at ReAgent

Staff Empowerment

We believe in total people involvement and aim to empower staff by adopting an open-door policy for suggestions from all staff members. By letting us know how they think we can improve, employees share a responsibility in making changes that will benefit the business and our customers.

We always give staff credit for making suggestions, to encourage them to continue to give their input and contribute to the gradual progression of the company. We follow through with employee ideas where we can, but if not, we make sure the staff member understands why we’re not executing their suggestion at that time.

Training and Monitoring Tools

We are dedicated to the development of our staff and adopt the use of simple training tools such as 5S and Value Stream Mapping, an effective lean management principle.

In-house, we have departmental KPI suites to measure performance in all areas. We use KPI to assist us in understanding the effects of any improvement project, which we carry out as part of being lean.

One example is the re-layout of our production facility, which we executed to satisfy market requirements and complement our product mix. Flexibility is key to ensuring our facility and service is market-leading and recent changes have shown that we can turn our hand and adapt to any customer requirements. It’s important that we are flexible enough to cope with higher demands and to allow processes to change between different activities without excessive delay. The new layout here will give us not only efficiency gains, but also a facility that accepts change readily.

‘Just-in-time’

Whilst ‘lean’ stresses the elimination of waste, ‘just-in-time’ is a term used to describe the idea of producing items only when they’re needed.

Through effective management of our supply chain, we’re able to operate a just-in-time service to our clients, whilst keeping inventories low and limiting over-production. This means producing exactly what the customer wants, in exact quantities, exactly when needed and where required and achieving all of this at the lowest possible cost.

“Lean isn’t an action, a project or a status. It is a culture that has been embedded into ReAgent from the start, so we can always understand where we can improve.”
– Simon Tasker, General Manager at ReAgent

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