Page 5 - Logistics News May 2018
P. 5

Thought Leadership

               The Kaizen Paradox

                                                                                  Courtesy Modern Materials Handling
                             How incremental improvements can impede innovation.

            KAIZEN IS a Japanese word that literally           equally important: Kaikaku, which means
            means ‘improvement’; in industry and               ‘radical change’. It describes the other side
            business it refers to small, continuous steps      of improvement: a radical transformation or a
            to better processes, synonymous with               major leap forward. Kaikaku is a less famous
            improvement in organisations around the            but equally important part of the Toyota
            world.                                             Production System, and is often overlooked
               Japanese businesses developed Kaizen            by organisations in their rush to embrace
            practices around the 1950s, most notably           Kaizen.
            Toyota as part of their Toyota Production
            System. After studying why the company was         The Kaizen Paradox and the issues it
            so successful at high-volume production of         creates
            high-quality vehicles in the 1960s, Masaaki        By focusing exclusively on small
            Imai wrote several books on Kaizen and             improvements, an organisation may miss an
            formed the Kaizen Institute, spreading the         opportunity to gain a competitive advantage
            knowledge and practice around the globe.           in costs and customer service. If competitors
               However, there are times when Kaizen is         take a big leap, an organisation will be left
            not enough. Worse still, a small improvement       behind. Small improvements also commit
            can often hold an organisation back, perhaps       resources that could be better spent toward
            even stifling significant development. This is     a larger step forward in performance, or
            the Kaizen Paradox.                                with more strategic planning, could have
               In the 1980s, author and business               contributed to a major change.
            professor Oren Harari famously pointed out            Finally, when a Kaikaku opportunity exists,
            that not everything that exists could have         the Kaizen path weakens the Kaikaku return
            been developed by continuous improvement           on investment and productivity can plateau
            alone. This idea is captured in another            at a lower level. This is the Kaizen Paradox at
            Japanese word that is less well known but          work.

            Manual warehouse                    Mechanised warehouse                Automated warehouse

            Person-to-goods (trolley)           Person-to-goods (conveyor)          Goods-to-person (robot/

            One picker processes                One picker processes                One picker/robot processes
            between 50 and 100 OL/hr            between 100 and 150 OL/hr           between 500 and 1,000 OL/

            To process 20,000 OL: 40 to         To process 20,000 OL: 20 to         To process 20,000 OL: 0 to 5
            50 pickers for 8 hours              25 pickers for 8 hours              pickers for 8 hours

            To store 20,000 SKUs:               To store 20,000 SKUs:               To store 20,000 SKUs:
            5,000m  2                           5,000m  (+ mezzanine)               1,000m 2

        10                                                                              May 2018  |  Logistics News
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10