How to use kaizen to save the planet

Kaizen is a strategy also called “Continuous improvement” or as its name translates, “Good Change”. It consists of making constant and small changes that will gradually improve the processes in both quality and efficiency. In the Kaizen is used the Deming circle or PDCA, which consists of four cyclic steps: Plan, Do, Check, Act. In the last one, all the steps are already checked and redone to get better so it can start again.

Today, companies are understood as an open and contingent system, which means that any action taken by the organization will also affect the outside and vice versa. Therefore, the Kaizen strategy is not only useful for improving productivity but also must be implemented to contribute to the planet earth and know how to use its resources.

eco_logistics_kaizen
Image courtesy of Ryan Cadby at Flickr.com

With Kaizen, the essential values are discipline and commitment. Unlike other methodologies, Kaizen is not a drastic change of a single moment but requires the daily commitment to search for continuous improvement. In addition, Kaizen involves the entire company, including senior management. In some cases, it is suggested that it should start from top to bottom to be an example. These values also implemented in the responsibility with the environment make the company more easily internalize its importance.

In the Kaizen is constantly looking for cost reduction and production materials to improve more and more. It also supports the small gradual changes that will eventually lead to great innovations. Doing this thinking about the environment helps less exploitation and waste. Based on the PDCA circle, at the end of each cycle, an analysis of the wasted is done to reduce it in the next and so until all the excess materials are recycled in the following process and completely avoid the waste. Even the name of “Manufacture in green” has been incorporated. Its motto, “Zero waste” is one of the key elements in this strategy.

Using Kaizen together with ecology also leads to products starting to differentiate themselves from the competition and generate a better image. Thanks to this, isn’t just contribute to the planet earth but also improve customer satisfaction.

recycle_logistics_kaizen
Image courtesy of James Wang at Flickr.com

In order to successfully use Kaizen in ecology, the company must take into account the following elements:

  1. Designing products that consume less energy: This item refers to both the process and the final result. During product creation you should constantly check how much energy is spent (this includes light, electricity and water). Finally, the object or service to be offered to the customer must also be constantly revised and improved so that each time requires less expense. If the product is of good quality, it also reduces the energy needed to repair or improve it.

  2. Recyclable products: At present, when talking about a “good quality” product doesn’t only refer to its duration and performance, it also takes into account what will happen once it is discarded. Future and current customers are increasingly aware of planet earth and the consequences of non-degradable products. If what the company offers will be polluting garbage, the whole ecological process is worthless.

  3.  Ecological raw materials: Among the ecological principles of Kaizen is the use of safer and better raw materials for the environment. The Kaizen methodology is based on giving value to each of the steps in production. To have a product that is friendly to the planet, its raw material must be carefully chosen. This means looking for different suppliers and changing tools to work according to the material chosen, which also leads to a change in the mentality of workers and their training.

  4. Less harmful substances: Materials such as glues, inks, oils and paints can now be found in the market made with different substances that make them degradable and less polluting for the environment.

  5. Less material but more resistant: The idea is not to lose quality and gain in ecology. Both can go hand in hand with small changes. You can use less material without losing quality. For example, when packaging the product, you can think of reducing unnecessary cartons that only generate more volume, caps too big, etc. In case of reducing material in the product itself, it must be taken into account that it does not affect its resistance or put the customer at risk. This means, investigate for different elements that can be spent less but have more resistance. Although costs may rise at this point, with the implementation of the other points, equilibrium is reached.

  6. Trained staff: The kaizen methodology is meaningless if the company does not have a staff aware of its impact on the environment. As stated at the beginning of this article, it is necessary the commitment and discipline of all and this is achieved with the training and constant updating of each member of the company.
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