Original Date: 02/09/1998
Revision Date: 04/22/2003
Information : Design Kaizen
UE’s Design Kaizen follows the Japanese Kaizen method for continuous improvement in its engineering design operations. The Kaizen methodology teaches that higher levels of performance can be achieved through an ongoing process of continuous improvement; supportive management: 100% participation; simple but reliable solutions; multi-functional teams; employee rewards and recognition; and applicability to all operational areas. The main thrust of the Kaizen process focuses on allowing the employee to be an effective contributor to the ongoing processes of the company.
Before implementing Design Kaizen, UE employees had little motivation to solve problems or make improvements. As a result, problems were left unresolved and existing processes stayed stagnant. Employees did not grasp the full relationship between what they did (or did not do) and how it positively (or negatively) impacted revenues. Few incentives and lack of understanding discouraged employees from helping the company reach higher levels of performance.
Over the past few years, UE has made great strides implementing the Kaizen methodology into its continuous improvement process, leading to improvements in products, processes, and factory operations. UE motivates its employees to continuously improve all operations throughout the company as well as the engineering design operations by creating an environment that encourages them to contribute. The company’s efforts increased teamwork, morale, problem solving, productivity, quality, and revenue. Design Engineering also developed easy-to- use mechanisms for every employee participating in continuous improvement. Key mechanisms for initiating continuous improvement activities include: Service Request System A formal record of request required to initiate an engineering activity that results in changing a product design.
Inspection Discrepancy Report System A formal record of request required to initiate quality assurance activity as a result of incoming inspection, design, manufacturing, documentation, or field problems.
Valued Ideas A formalized process for reporting an idea for evaluation or an idea that has been implemented (e.g., variety reduction, production/process improvements, product/design improvements, cost reduction). Valued ideas are typically low technology that can be implemented by an individual or a team.
Action Centers A formalized process of submitting action items for general improvement, problem resolution, problem avoidance, and exploration of new ideas. Action items are typically of a magnitude and complexity that require in-depth engineering evaluation and management approval.
Reliable Methods Accepted Total Quality Management methods (e.g., cause-and-effect diagrams; Pareto charts; trend lines) used to effect the continuous improvement process.
Recognition and Reward Systems A well-defined process for recognizing and rewarding employees for their contribution to continuous improvement.
With these mechanisms in place, Design Engineering has a 100% participation in its continuous improvement process. Benefits from Design Kaizen include increased teamwork spirit, morale, and motivation for problem solving; tangible results; and improvements in visibility, productivity, quality, and revenue.
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