How Kaizen Can Help Improve Your Supply Chain

How Kaizen Can Help Improve Your Supply Chain

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Knowing that productivity will always be a key to success, you need to ramp up yours. Your manufacturing plant or distribution center needs to improve its numbers, but how?

You could implement the well-known Japanese business philosophy of kaizen meaning constant improvement by making small changes. The process of implementation puts a trained manager on the production floor to spot problems on the line which they immediately rectify. This requires a keen eye and creative intellect since they problem-solve on the fly.

While the manager surveying the floor has become the aspect of kaizen most people know, full implementation of the policy also requires analyzing business processes, procedures, and practices.  From logistics to transportation and everywhere in between, using supply chain software can help you quickly determine problems and develop solutions.

Kaizen tears down the walls between employees and management. It gives every employee a voice in what would improve production. Employees contribute to the improvement process. The improvement mechanism consists of meetings at which all employees can contribute suggestions and an open-door policy for them to visit with managers about problems.

Truck drivers commonly know the biggest problems facing the transportation of goods. A forklift operator knows what organization patterns would make it most efficient to load, move, and unload products in a warehouse or on a dock. The CPAs of the company know what paperwork holds up product releases from shippers or the effect of a late payment on the release of goods.

Management also has its closed-door meetings to review procedures for improvements. These start with setting objectives and goals for the kaizen implementation. Using Pareto diagrams also help in the planning process to identify which areas require the greatest improvement.
Once attained, these goals get replaced with new goals, with the concept of kaizen being constant improvement. No organization ever reaches perfection but every organization can improve. For businesses that transport or ship products, improving the supply chain tops the list for improvement areas.

While it may seem frustrating that the process never finishes, you should create a 30-day plan to see how much improvement you can squeeze into the first month of implementation. You will see a slowing of improvement as you maximize productivity. Since new technologies consistently debut, you can continuously improve your supply chain.

For example, consider how smart technology on trucks has improved tracking and logistics information. Cell phones make it simpler to reach drivers to check on shipment status or delays. Blockchain implementation results in veracity improvements.

All of these technologies improve your bottom line but you will not see them in your business processes to view their improvements until you integrate them. This, too, falls into kaizen since these small improvements result in a better company.

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