There’s a plethora of information out there on reasons behind the growing popularity, the manifold benefits, as well as the tools and techniques for Kaizen implementation and lean manufacturing processes in general. But the same cannot be said about the obstacles to Kaizen implementation in the manufacturing context and how to overcome them.
Some of the problems that have been identified so far include accumulation of waste, low levels of commitment from employees, defects, and dysfunctions, etc.
But in order to successfully implement kaizen, a company needs to have foresight into the possible challenges that militate against Kaizen implementation. This article examines the biggest challenges of Kaizen implementation. By overcoming these challenges, manufacturers will be able to enhance the efficiency of the operational activities and increase the profitability of the business.
Findings about the Challenges of Kaizen Implementation
There have been several studies on the common problems that prevent the successful implementation of Kaizen in manufacturing firms across the globe. These studies examined the reasons why the increasing adoption of Kaisen in the manufacturing industry has not yielded as much success as the growing popularity of the methodology would imply.
Statistics show that the widespread adoption of the methodology does not translate to a high success rate of Kaizen implementation across the manufacturing industry. In one survey of US manufacturers, 90% of 3,000 manufacturing firms admitted to implementing various continuous improvement developments. However, the percentage that was satisfied with the positive results generated from the implementation was just 10%.
In another similar survey, 33% of the 360 firms from Spain and Mexico adopted the Kaizen methodology, but they’re only a few traces of any valuable improvements among them. In these studies, the biggest obstacles to Kaizen implementation were the lack of concerted efforts by the executives of the firms, poor implementation activities, lack of resources, lack of a good return on investments for the continuous improvement projects, staunch resistance to change by employees, as well as resistance from Union members.
What are the Biggest Challenges?
The Improvement of any manufacturing process is a gradual process that needs time to unfold. The improvement processes need time not only to procure the necessary inventory of tools and equipment but to also get all hands on deck and to carry everyone along. Time constraints differ from firm to firm, depending on the number of people involved as well as the nature of the problem areas treated.
However, with the correct implementation methodologies, the availability of the right resources, as well as high level of participation of the members of the organization across the board, time constraints can be duly surmounted in the implementation of Kaizen in a manufacturing firm.
Lack of Adequate Resources
One of the most common and pressing challenges of Kaizen implementation is the lack of access to resources. Some of the resources, of which the lack of them hinders continuous improvement projects, include an all-inclusive budget, Six Sigma or Kaizen training, Kaizen software solutions, as well as manufacturing hardware.
Among these, the lack of Kaizen software is usually the most common and most challenging of them all. That’s when we get in, since we facilitate the close tracking and monitoring of manufacturing performances, in order to provide insights into the efficiencies of operational activities and quality control.
Miscalculations in Goal Setting
Poorly defined goals can turn out to be counterproductive to continuous improvement projects. The definition of the most optimal goals for Kaizen implementation is usually the result of a thorough-going examination of all areas of the business, from the acquisition of raw materials to the delivery of the finished products to customers, in order to identify the most consequential problem areas that require improvements. This thorough examination helps identify not only the problem areas that require urgent intervention but also the areas from which challenges may spring up in the nearest future.
Most of these areas usually involve the acquisition of inventories, quality checks, and engineering solutions. Once the problematic area has been identified, the next thing that must be carried out is an in-depth analysis of the causes of the problems as well as the possible solutions to the problem. For instance, poor quality finished products might come about a result of design flaws, defective or dysfunctional machinery, lack of adequate skills of employees, etc.
Internal and External Resistance
Both employees and regulatory bodies may fail to properly understand the objectives and the technicalities of a continuous improvement project proposed by a company. This usually leads to both covert and overt resistance.
From the managers to the floor workers and employees in other departments, resistance to Kaizen implementation can come from anywhere, as employees may believe that the improvement processes are actually a threat to the status quo and their positions in the organization.
The fact that Kaizen implementation can lead to a reduction of time spent on certain parts of the processes or the complete elimination of such processes can make production workers despair about their current jobs and the usefulness of their current skill set. To overcome this resistance, the workers must be reassured that the improvement processes are meant to expedite production and make work easier for them. They must also be given proper training.
Inconsistency in Efforts
One of the most crucial aspects of Kaizen implementation is continuity. Some manufacturing firms may be contented with any measure of progress achieved through the Kaizen implementation projects. As a result, they may tend to continue implementing the improvement processes with lax consistency, risking a reversion to the old ways. It’s imperative for companies to continue monitoring and enacting the improvement processes with cogent consistency even when substantial results have been achieved.
Kaizen implementation in the manufacturing industry entails curtailing waste in various areas of production as well as the continuous improvement of workflow, quality, and delivery in the production processes.
Our company can help you ensure that the most common obstacles to Kaizen implementation do not prevent you from enjoying competitiveness in the 4th industrial revolution. We’re ready to offer you our well-rounded expertise and our powerful solution to help you to roll out continuous improvement processes in your organization.