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CIP and Kaizen – continuously improving the process

Published: · Last updated: · 10 min reading time

CIP methods are used to ensure competitiveness and establish a continuous improvement process in the company. This article will show more details about CIP and Kaizen and look at essential CIP methods such as the 5-S method.

What is meant by CIP and Kaizen?

CIP stands for the Continuous Improvement Process. Its objective is to improve the product, processes, and service quality continuously. The employees in the company ensure continuous improvement of the processes in their respective teams or departments within their area of responsibility. For the continuous improvement process to have economic success at the company level, it must be practiced throughout the company.

For a management system certified according to ISO 9001, the CIP, also called continuous improvement, is the basis that must be practiced and proven.

But for this to succeed, certain conditions must be met:

  • Working time must be made available.
  • Measures for further training must be created.
  • The appropriate workflows and processes must be implemented.
  • Important: The ideas must also be implemented.

The introduction of a continuous improvement process always leads to changes in existing processes. It is therefore essential that employees are involved in the CIP process.

Origin of CIP methods and Kaizen

Kaizen’s word comes from the Japanese and means approximately change for the better and continuously and infinitely. Kaizen is firmly anchored in the Japanese culture and thus in the way of thinking of the Japanese. It influences the complete everyday life of the Japanese and thus does not only begin at the company door in the morning and also does not end at the end of the working day. Therefore, in Japanese practice, Kaizen is not a method per se but a philosophy of life.

In Kaizen, the focus is not on leaps and bounds of change through innovation. Likewise, the focus is not on quick, financial gain. Kaizen strives for step-by-step optimization of products and processes.

Benefits resulting from these methods

When people talk about Kaizen, the name Masaaki Imai quickly comes up. This man is a Japanese organizational theorist and a management consultant who has made a name for himself in quality management and Kaizen. For Imai, the message of Kaizen is that there is not a day when some improvement (in the company) does not happen. There are several benefits to using Kaizen:

  • Kaizen can be applied almost anywhere without much effort, whether it’s products, services, processes, activities, technology, or the workplace itself.
  • Constant, step-by-step optimization of processes.
  • Waste of time, material, and money is avoided.
  • Daily (small) improvements.
  • Setting standards so that they become a habit.
  • Better working atmosphere: by making all employees part of the process and actively involving them in the process, the Kaizen method positively impacts the working atmosphere.
  • Less scrap, reduction of inventory, and shorter lead times result in higher productivity. It results in higher customer satisfaction.

In Kaizen, the motto is “the customer is king.” The peculiarity is that this does mean not only external customers, i.e. end-users, but also internal customers. Internal customers are, for example, the colleagues in a branch office of the company.

Kaizen and CIP – these are the differences

Mostly CIP and Kaizen are mentioned in the same breath. But there are some differences between these two terms.

Kaizen, as already described above, goes beyond the business management or entrepreneurial point of view. In our Western world, Kaizen is often associated with Lean Management and Toyota. Often, in our latitudes, the term Kaizen is therefore limited to the meaning of continuous improvement. Thus, the term: CIP, and the systematic approaches of Lean Management have been adapted from the Toyota principle. The whole was reduced to the methodical level. Kaizen, however, is more than just a few CIP methods from an “improvement toolbox.” Kaizen is a way of life.

The tools in the continuous improvement process are composed of different approaches and CIP methods and aim to deliver results, such as quality improvement of products and services. However, these results are only considered on an environmental-business level and are only improved in this view. Another problem is that CIP is primarily focused only on existing processes.

Kaizen looks beyond the business management view. It is less focused on the quality view and the bottom line. CIP looks at cost optimization, which is less of a focus with Kaizen. There are fewer tangible factors involved in Kaizen, so it is more focused on the agile view.

CIP method: The 5S method in Kaizen

Die KVP-Methode 5S wird auf Ordnung am Arbeitsplatz gesetzt. Ein unaufgeräumter und chaotischer Arbeitsplatz verbraucht unnötig viel Zeit und Energie. Die 5S-Methode soll dabei helfen, dass man sich auf die eigentliche Arbeit besser fokussieren kann. Dadurch soll die Produktivität gesteigert sowie Organisation und Arbeitsplätze verbessert werden. Die 5S-Methode wurde Mitte des 20. Jahrhundert in Japan entwickelt. Die 5S-Methode gliedert sich in 5 Schritte, daher auch der Name 5S:

  1. Seiri: Sort (sort out).
  2. Seiton: Set-in order (arrange)
  3. Seiso: Shine (clean up the workplace)
  4. Seiketsu: Standardize
  5. Shitsuke: Sustain

The 5S method also increases workplace safety.

According to a study by Sharp Business Systems, an employee spends an average of 60 days a year unproductive. 12 days of those days are spent just searching for materials and information, according to the study.

The 5S method is, therefore, an ideal companion to the Kaizen and Lean Management philosophy. The 5S method aims to achieve the following goals:

  • Employees are to be made more productive regardless of the industry.
  • Reduce workplace accidents through a clean and tidy workplace.
  • Quality is to be improved and waiting times reduced.
  • Simplify handovers so that colleagues who are strangers to a strange but systematically ordered workplace can find their way around faster and better.
  • Create space by disposing of redundant items.
  • Stress is to be reduced through more clarity and less time spent searching.

How does the continuous improvement process work?

In simple terms, CIP works to compare the emerging problems with their work processes daily, and solutions are sought. For the whole thing to have a system, however, there are various approaches to finding solutions:

  • Intuitive approach: employees record in writing the problems that arise in their daily work.
  • Observational approach: project teams are formed to regularly check the different departments for waste, imbalances, and overloads.
  • Analytical approach: This approach prepares a systematic analysis of the work processes according to figures, data, and facts. This allows possible methods to be identified where something is going wrong and can subsequently be eliminated.

What are the phases when introducing the continuous improvement process in one’s own company?

There are three phases to go through when introducing the continuous improvement process in one’s own company:

  • The kickoff phase in CIP: Before the CIP is introduced, a kickoff meeting should be held. Here it is the task of the upper management level, the managers, the works council, and the employees to introduce the basics of the CIP. Suitable motivators and coordinators must be appointed for the kickoff meeting. In addition, the motivators and coordinators must be trained. That includes an introduction to the basics, problem-solving methods, and tools.
  • The integration phase of the CIP process: The basic idea of CIP is to consider daily think about where I can do even better. That includes, among other things, assessing whether the company structure is suitable for this. Managers should think about how they can turn their co-workers into co-thinkers. Tasks must be delegated to the employees. It must be accepted that the delegate may carry out the job in a completely different way than one would have done it oneself. During the integration phase, it is advantageous if the training takes place “on the fly,” i.e., in the course of daily work.

    Furthermore, the daily process flows must be kept in mind and looked for for overloads and wastes. Additional CIP facilitators must also be trained. The moderators and coordinators need to develop their basic knowledge further.

  • The stabilization phase in the continuous improvement process: It is not decisive whether success is achieved in the short term, but whether the quality is high in the long run. Thus, the wrong path is taken when the question “What does our company have to do to be more successful economically?” is in the foreground. The customer’s point of view is decisive because he expects the best quality of the company’s product or service every day anew. Therefore, it is essential to quickly banish the idea of profit from its mind and instead familiarize itself with the concept of quality. Only in this way is it possible for the continuous improvement process to unfold or develop in the long term. The following measures make sense: The process organization must be continuously developed | All measures and achieved results of the CIP process should be communicated to the entire organization. Notices or information boards in the company are useful for communicating results. | CIP regulars’ tables should be introduced so that experiences with the CIP can be exchanged beyond the sites and divisions. The CIP moderators should participate in further training at regular intervals.

What is the PDCA cycle?

Before we talk about the combination between CIP and the PDCA cycle, it should be explained what the PDCA cycle is. The PDCA cycle is used to improve internal quality management. The PDCA cycle is a process for problem-solving. The word PDCA is composed of the individual steps of the cycle: “Plan – Do – Check – Act.” The inventor of the PDCA cycle was the American physicist William Edwards Deming. He is still one of the most important pioneers of quality management today. Deming advised the Japanese on the reconstruction of their Japanese economy after World War II. Deming used the PDCA cycle, which the Japanese successfully implemented with Japanese diligence.

This consists of these four phases:

  • PLAN (plan quality): The first step is to analyze the current state in detail and define a quality strategy. Moreover, it is necessary to collect problem-specific data using quality techniques. This data shows later on if the objectives are achieved.
  • DO (try out): Now, it is a matter of implementation. The next step is to develop an improvement plan, including verification to see if the planned measures will lead to improvements. Employees should be involved in the process and familiarized with the plan. It can be advantageous if this is done through workshops. The planned improvements must then be organized and tried out, for example, through a pilot project.
  • CHECK: The PDCA method will only lead to the desired result if it is accurately measured and observed. The measurement results are the ideal prerequisite for working out suitable variants for action. If the objective set in the planning phase does not lead to the expected result, one goes back to the first point (PLAN).
  • ACT (Action): The promising processes will be set as a standard in the last step. Procedures, norms, rules, and regulations will help to set the standard. It remains in place until better processes replace it and thus create a new default.

How can CIP be implemented with the PDCA cycle?

The first step is to determine the issues in the company processes. A team of project or quality circles works out the solution steps of the existing errors and problems. Once this has been done, the solution measures that have been worked out are put into practice. The result of these steps is then subjected to further review. If the result is not satisfactory and the desired success is not achieved, the cycle must be repeated. Implementing CIP in a company requires many resources, such as time, personnel, training, and motivation of those involved. However, the effort is quickly made up for by the considerable benefits that CIP brings. Based on a CIP study by the management consultancy Agamus, in which 100 German companies participated, the following could be improved with the help of CIP methods:

Costs are saved through less waste (98% of companies surveyed).

71% of the companies surveyed were able to reduce scrap and rework.

94% were able to reduce cycle time.

91% stated that motivation had increased as a result of CIP.

62% of the companies surveyed said that CIP has increased employee identification with their own company since its introduction.

In addition to the points mentioned above, a general improvement in cooperation and an increase in problem and cost awareness were observed.

A company that decides to introduce CIP benefits on an economic level and improves the working atmosphere in the long term. A good working atmosphere, in turn, leads to motivated and thus more efficient employees.

Success Story: FORCAM partner increases efficiency and decreases scrap.   Learn How