21. Jun. 2018

Kenyan businesses delight in their innovative use of the KAIZEN™ Way

a conversation with Mpho Thobejane, Pearence Kalulu and Deborah Patterson – Senior Consultants, Kaizen Institute South Africa

Three members of the Kaizen Institute South Africa team comprising senior consultants Mpho Thobejane and Pearence Kalulu led by Deborah Patterson, recently visited a number of businesses in Kenya, which have implemented KAIZEN™ principles and methodologies.  This is what they found.

“What was the purpose of your visit to Kenya?”

The purpose was three-fold. Firstly, although we are experienced operational excellence consultants, we wanted to see an implementation done the “KAIZEN™ Way”, as our team joined Kaizen Institute relatively recently. Secondly, we wanted to see the implementation of Lean principles in industries, which we have not worked in previously nor considered up ‘til now. Lastly, we wanted to build the collaboration amongst the teams within Kaizen Institute who work in the near-by regions for the benefits for our clients and our own development.

“How many clients did you work with and who were they?”

We had the privilege of being taken on four different benchmarking tours by clients themselves. The first was the MP Shah hospital followed by a visit to the Kariki flower farm. The second day we visited a FMCG producer PZ Cussons and then a PVC pipe and fitting manufacturer Coninx.

“Are they existing KAIZEN™ users?”

All four are existing Kaizen Institute clients and have different Lean tools and systems embedded in the way they go about their daily operations. They have each implemented aspects of 5S as well as a visual management system, Daily KAIZEN™, which maintains the gains from their specific KAIZEN™ projects.

“What improvements were made to their operations?”

With MP Shah Hospital, the focus was on customer experience and reducing inventory to free up cash flow. They are tracking discharge times and are creatively collecting customer feedback through various mediums to give to the relevant sections. They have also implemented a very effective KANBAN system in their consumables that they are seeing good benefits from.

With Kariki, being a flower farm, we were not too expectant in terms of Lean implementation examples and were completely blown away by how the simplest of changes and a very strong culture can produce such radical results. Without using a single metre more of land and with the same number of workers with limited education, Kariki has tripled its production from the start of their improvement journey in 2010.

“A major highlight for me was how Kenya’s Kaizen Institute clients take full ownership of the KAIZEN™ Way of doing things. This means throughout an organisation there is clear understanding of what is expected. It’s a perfect example of goal alignment at work.” Says Pearance Kalulu.

PZ Cussons’ project focus was impressive as well. They outlined each of the areas that they wanted to improve and the target for improvement and are systematically working through each project using KAIZEN™ methodologies.

This approach has led them to improvements such as a 30% increase in availability on a specific production line, a 50% improvement in their instore stock accuracy, as well as an optimised spares and consumables inventory in their engineering department.

Coninx showed us the truest example of Continuous Improvement as they took us through their journey to reduce the die changeover times in their plant. With multiple adjustments, overall time for each changeover was reduced from anywhere between three and 45 minutes, ultimately leading to a streamlined and world-class changeover.

“What learnings did you come away with? Can these be applied in clients both in South Africa and Africa as a whole?”

There were so many small learnings, some of which we have already started introducing to current clients and will definitely use in the future, but the key takeaways from this tour that are applicable everywhere are:

• The entire system and culture of Continuous Improvement needs to be owned and driven by top management.

• You can get value from implementing once off improvement projects but not to the extent that empowering your employees can unlock.

• You don’t need to be able to afford the high tech computer systems to be able to implement the principles they are based on. A perfect example of this was the preventative maintenance scheduling system used by Coninx made of laminated cards and a Perspex board.

“Limitation of fancy resources shouldn’t be a limitation of your operational excellence journey. Doing more with what they have is a life lesson I took out.” Says Mpho Thobejane.

“What struck you about Kenya as a whole and the approach to business?” 

Kenya has this disorganised hum of constant movement with half-built streets that are overcrowded and every vehicle vying for the smallest of gaps to squeeze into in order to move just that little bit further forward. I feel that this is exactly how they approach business. At first glance, they seem to be behind South Africa in terms of systems but they are implementing world-class principles in simple, manual ways to save costs and give them that slight edge over the competitor. There is a willingness to continuously improve within all levels of the organisation and it’s hoped that we can replicate this in South Africa.

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