Assignment 6


  1. Explain why continual quality improvement is important. Continuous improvement in a management context means a never-ending effort to expose and eliminate root causes of problems. Usually, it involves many incremental or small-step improvements rather than one overwhelming innovation.                              The term Continuous Process Improvement also serves as an umbrella spanning a great many improvement processes with different and more exotic names. While these various techniques appear quite different on the surface, experts in these respective fields generally acknowledge that most share a common theme. This is a fundamental thing for an organization to be successful globally. They need to serve the customers whose needs are changing continually and this is where an organization who seek continual quality improvement wins against the stagnant organization. This can be achieved by following the activities shown below.


  1. What is management’s role in continual quality improvement?           Management can play the necessary leadership role- and that essentially is its role-in continual improvement by doing following steps:New Doc 2_1
  • Establishing an organization wide quality council and serving on it.
  • Working with the quality council to establish specific quality improvements goals with timetables and target dates.
  • Providing the necessary moral and physical support. Moral support manifests itself as commitment. Physical support comes in the form of the resources needed to accomplish the quality improvement objectives.
  • Scheduling periodic progress reviews and giving recognition where it is deserved.
  • Building continual quality improvements into the regular reward system, including promotions and pay increases.


  1. Discuss the Kaizen approach.


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Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning continuous improvement. It’s made up of two characters in Japanese: kai, which means ‘change,’ and ‘zen,’ which means ‘good.’ It’s used to describe a company culture where everyone, from the CEO to the front desk clerk, regularly evaluates his or her work and thinks of ways to improve it. The concept is that small steps on a regular basis will lead to large improvements over time.


Kaizen is a slow but ongoing process of improvement, not a ‘blitz’ or quickly implemented set of changes. The improvements are suggested by the person doing the work, not an outside evaluation team. If a worker has a problem to address or is considering whether a change will make sense, he should pull in several team members for a quick discussion and brainstorming session, and then decide what to do from there.


Role of executive management: They are responsible for establishing Kaizen as the overriding corporate strategy and communicating this commitment to all levels of the organization: allocating the resources necessary for Kaizen to work: establishing appropriate policies, ensuring full deployment of kaizen policies and establishing system, procedures and structures that promote kaizen.


Role middle managers: Middle managers are responsible for implementing kaizen policies established by executive management; establishing, maintaining and improving work standards: ensuring that employees receive the training necessary to understand and implement kaizen and ensuring that employees learn how to use all applicable problem solving tools.


Role of supervisors: They are responsible for applying the kaizen approach in their functional rules, developing plans for carrying out the kaizen approach at the functional level, improving communication in the workplace, maintaining morale , providing coaching for teamwork activities, soliciting kaizen suggestions from employees, and making kaizen suggestions.


  1. How would you describe a lean system?

Lean production is an assembly-line methodology developed originally for Toyota and the manufacturing of automobiles. It is also known as the Toyota Production System or just-in-time production. Lean production principles are also referred to as lean management or lean thinking.


Lean management seeks to eliminate any waste of time, effort or money by identifying each step in a business process and then revising or cutting out steps that do not create value. The philosophy has its roots in manufacturing.


Guiding principles for lean management include:

  • Defining value from the standpoint of the end customer.
  • Identifying each step in a business process and eliminating those steps that do not create value.
  • Making the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence.
  • Repeating the first three steps on a continuous basis until all waste has been eliminated.


  1. What is lean six sigma and how would you apply it to a quality management system?


Lean management seeks to eliminate any waste of time, effort or money by identifying each step in a business process and then revising or cutting out steps that do not create value. The philosophy has its roots in manufacturing.


The process has three key stages:


Stage 1 – Identify Waste

According to the Lean philosophy, waste always exists, and no matter how good your process is right now, it can always be better. This commitment to continuous improvement is known as Kaizen Add to My Personal Learning Plan.

One of the key tools used to find this waste is a Value Stream Map Add to My Personal Learning Plan (VSM). This shows how materials and processes flow through your organization to bring your product or service to the consumer. It looks at how actions and departments are connected, and it highlights the waste. As you analyze the VSM, you’ll see the processes that add value and those that don’t. You can then create a “future state” VSM that includes as few non-value-adding activities as possible.


Stage 2 – Analyze the Waste, and Find the Root Cause

For each waste you identified in the first stage, figure out what’s causing it by using Root Cause Analysis Add to My Personal Learning Plan. If a machine is constantly breaking down, you might think the problem is mechanical and decide to purchase a new machine. But Root Cause Analysis could show that the real problem is poorly trained operators who don’t use the machine properly. Other effective tools for finding a root cause include Brainstorming


Stage 3 – Solve the Root Cause, and Repeat the Cycle                                                          Using an appropriate problem-solving Add to My Personal Learning Plan process, decide what you must do to fix the issue to create more efficiency.


  1. Define benchmarking.

Benchmarking is a process for obtaining a measure – a benchmark. Simply stated, benchmarks are the “what,” and benchmarking is the “how.” But benchmarking is not a quick or simple process tool. Before undertaking a benchmarking opportunity, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the company’s guidelines. Some companies have strict guidelines as to what information can be gathered, and whom practitioners can contact to get that information. Depending on the size of the company, practitioners may be surprised at what is readily available in-house.


Benchmarking is not just a matter of making inquiries to other companies or touring and documenting another company’s facilities or processes. When making use of benchmarking, a company should not limit the scope to its own industry, nor should benchmarking be a one-time event.


  1. How can you apply benchmarking data?

It is important that Six Sigma practitioners have a thorough understanding of their own company’s guidelines before undertaking a benchmarking opportunity. The following is a list of the vital few steps involved in benchmarking. These steps should be tailored based on company policies, resource availability and the project or process one is dealing with:


  • Understand the company’s current process performance gaps. This will help decide what needs benchmarking.
  • Obtain support and approval from the executive leadership team. That approval and support will assist with eliminating roadblocks, providing adequate resources and expediting the benchmark-gathering process.
  • Document benchmarking objectives and scope. Agree on what to benchmark. Everyone must be in agreement on what to benchmark prior to any benchmark gathering initiative in order to understand gaps of low performers, understand impact to customers, associates and shareholders and prioritize and select one to three metrics to benchmark.
  • Develop a data collection plan.
  • Conduct a site visit.
  • Apply the learnings to performance gaps.
  • Communicate to the executive leadership to ensure continued support.
  • Develop a recommended implementation plan with process owner.
  • Know when to update and recalibrate.


  1. What is a JIT system?

Just In Time (JIT) is a production and inventory control system in which materials are purchased and units are produced only as needed to meet actual customer demand.


When Companies use Just in Time (JIT) manufacturing and inventory control system, they purchase materials and produce units only as needed to meet actual customers demand. In just in time manufacturing system inventories are reduced to the minimum and in some cases are zero. JIT approach can be used in both manufacturing and merchandising companies. It has the most profound effects, however, on the operations of manufacturing companies which maintain three class of inventories-raw material, Work in process, and finished goods. Traditionally, manufacturing companies have maintained large amounts of all three types of inventories to act as buffers so that operations can proceed smoothly even if there are unanticipated disruptions. Raw materials inventories provide insurance in case suppliers are late with deliveries. Work in process inventories are maintained in case a work station is unable to operate due to a breakdown or other reason. Finished goods inventories are maintained to accommodate unanticipated fluctuations in demand. While these inventories provide buffers against unforeseen events, they have a cost. In addition to the money tied up in the inventories, expert argue that the presence of inventories encourages inefficient and sloppy work, results in too many defects, and dramatically increase the amount of time required to complete a product.


  1. What are the benefits of JIT/lean?

By using just-in-time concepts, there is a greatly reduced need for raw materials and work-in-process, while finished goods inventories should be close to non-existent. The use of just-in-time inventory has the following advantages:


  • There should be minimal amounts of inventory obsolescence, since the high rate of inventory turnover keeps any items from remaining in stock and becoming obsolete.
  • Since production runs are very short, it is easier to halt production of one product type and switch to a different product to meet changes in customer demand.

The very low inventory levels mean that inventory holding costs (such as warehouse space) are minimized.

  • The company is investing far less cash in its inventory, since less inventory is needed.
  • Less inventory can be damaged within the company, since it is not held long enough for storage-related accidents to arise. Also, having less inventory gives materials handlers more room to maneuver, so they are less likely to run into any inventory and cause damage.
  • Production mistakes can be spotted more quickly and corrected, which results in fewer products being produced that contain defects.


  1. Discuss automation system ideas for JIT/lean.

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JIT is a pull system. The production schedule does not originate in a market forecast, although a great deal of market research is done to determine what customers want. The production demand comes from the customer. Moreover, the demand is made on the final assembly process by pulling finished products out of the factory. The operators of that process, in turn, place their pull demands on the preceding process, and that cycle is repeated until finally the pull demand reaches back to the material and part suppliers. Each process and each supplier is allowed to furnish only the quantity of its output needed by the succeeding process.

In this system, the customer demand is felt throughout the system, all the way to the factory suppliers and even beyond that. This system is simpler in eliminating entire functions such as material control, production control, warehousing and stocking.


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