Japanese for Continuous Improvement. Based on the philosophy that what we do today should be better than yesterday and what we do tomorrow should be better than today, never resting or accepting status quo. Continuous Improvement recognizes that Muda (waste) exists everywhere related to people, materials and facilities, or the production set-up itself.
Kaizen also refers to a series of activities where instances of waste are eliminated one by one at minimal cost, by workers pooling their knowledge and increasing efficiency in a timely manner. Kaizen activities typically emphasize manual work operations rather than equipment.
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Takt time is the average time between the start of production of one unit and the start of production of the next unit, when these production starts are set to match the rate of customer demand. For example, if a customer wants 10 units per week, then, given a 40-hour work week and steady flow through the production line, the average time between production starts should be 4 hours (actually less than that in order to account for things like machine downtime and scheduled paid employee breaks), yielding 10 units produced per week. Note, a common misconception is that takt time is related to the time it takes to actually make the product. In fact, takt time simply reflects the rate of production needed to match the demand. In the previous example, whether it takes 4 minutes or 4 years to produce the product, the takt time is based on customer demand. If a process or a production line are unable to produce at takt time, either demand leveling, additional resources, or process re-engineering is needed to correct the issue.