Planning Kaizen Event

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    Daniel Sims


    My company is looking to conduct a Kaizen event with a focus on 5S in the next few months. As we are a manufacturing plant the current plan is to spend one day with production either stopped or scaled right back. Now this isn’t alot of time I’m sure you’ll agree. I’ve read this article so far:

    So my current outline plan is to conduct some data collection before the event, most likely process maps/value stream maps with a particular focus on the time spent moving resources and time resource waits.

    Another key point of the event is to highlight unused or old equipment to scrap/sell for a cash injection. I’m thinking to apply some simple tally charts onto questionable areas of the factory to highlight equipment that isn’t used, most likely a month before the event.

    Senior managements aim is to get many people into it, so I will also need to provide further training or at least divide influencers into teams and provide training to them before the event.

    The day one and two activities in the above article (Current state documentation and current state evaluation) are things I think we can cover in the run up to the event. Day three I think will be a difficult thing to do before, as it really requires the fresh eyes approach using the data to guide them. I fear day three and four of this method will be consolidated into one day at my plant and be rushed.

    Does anyone have any pointers or further reading on translating a solid five day plan like this into a one day plant-wide event?

    I will reiterate the key areas/KPIs will be 1) Identify uneccessary equipment 2) Remove waste from processes through use of 5S principles and 3) Wider plant organisation + standardisation of visual management.

    Alternatively if anyone has any prior experience of one day Kaizen events and would like to share any of their lessons I’m all ears,

    Thanks in advance,




    It sounds like you’re a small operation and it will be costly. You definitely want to collect and prepare as much data as possible and share it with participants before the event. Give them data, not suggestions about improvements. Make sure they know what’s expected of them and that they have time to think about it. Make sure they understand the data. You’ll probably only get one shot at this. If this is your first kaizen event and you don’t feel confident you might talk to your management about bringing in a consultant to facilitate. But beware of that. Many consulting companies are more interested in selling additional services rather than completing what they were engaged to do.


    Mike Carnell

    @Daniel.S You need to think about what makes things work inside your company. You can find all kinds of “rules” from “Experts” about what you should and shouldn’t do. There is only one rule – get results. I like the way you do your own research on things. Just remember to keep thinking. If something doesn’t work change it.

    If you want to talk through some stuff you can contact me at [email protected]. I can get some other people on a call so you get more than one perspective.

    Good luck.


    Iryn Dela Cruz

    Hi Daniel,

    Conducting Kaizen presentation with focus on 5S is just simple. I had this project which I initiated way back Year 2008. Initially, call for a meeting with the different functions and let them know your objectives. You have to reiterate to them what 5S is so that they can realize what really need to be improved on their area of responsibilities. Actually, one of the major project I have in Kaizen with focus on 5S is the control of documents. The documents we had before takes too long to provide because it wasn’t arrange properly and no proper identification. Before it took us more than an hour to get the necessary document so we targeted to have it provided within 15 minutes. I can give you sample presentation forward me your email address.


    Mike Chambers

    One definition or translation of the Japanese word kaizen is “continuous improvement.” That’s the translation Toyota uses. That means kaizen is an ongoing, almost spontaneous occurrence. Plants practicing kaizen should have dozens or more events each and every day. For best (read sustained) results, kaizens are led by the troops doing the work and not management or engineering.

    Kaizen events should also follow Pareto Principle (80/20) thinking. Let’s spend 20% of the effort and get 80% of the benefit today knowing, if we’re truly practicing kaizen, we’ll be back tomorrow.

    The other thought I would offer is the real (money making) purpose of 5S is make make the life of the employee easier by removing time and distance. That means taking out steps, hassle, paperwork, looking, etc. That type of focus allows the employees to become more productive and the functions they perform more efficient. Moving aged equipment is a good thing and would likely occur anyway but that should not be a goal of a 5S effort. Put differently, moving the equipment may make the area more aesthetically pleasing but probably won’t result in big money savings. On the other hand, especially when focused, an improved and more productive workforce will likely pay big dividends well into the future.

    Glad to discuss …


    Anthony S.

    Hey Daniel,

    There’s a lot of good advice out there and above, so I’ll simply say, make sure you include the folks doing the work and don’t steam roll their ideas. A lesson learned from a manufacturing plant I worked in where they had conducted kaizens in the past, was that the employees were allowed to voice their opinions and concerns, but none were heard; the folks leading the kaizen already had a plan for their area and that’s what they implemented. Eventually we got their support and participation back but it was a painful couple years re-building their buy-in..

    I wish you the best.


    a 5S event is a singular action focused on cleaning up an area or process. Not sure what value collecting all the data you mentioned would help you with a 5S event.
    Process maps etc are great for the big picture but I’d focus on determining the scope of your 5S event, training participants in the intent of the Event and putting in place controls to maintain the 5S actions once the event is completed.
    5S is a foundational activity in improving a manufacturing function. It in itself is not a complete improvement planning event. Don’t over reach on your first venture.
    Read all the material you can on 5S events, prepare a short training plan for the participants, define the scope of the process you plan to cover, include preventative maintenance in your overall plan, and most important is the control plan to maintain the gains you make in this event.

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