Lean-Kaizen implementation: A roadmap for identifying continuous improvement opportunities in Indian small and medium sized enterprise

Sunil Kumar (Mechanical Engineering Department, Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, India)
Ashwani Dhingra (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, India)
Bhim Singh (Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology, Sharda University, Greater Noida, India)

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology

ISSN: 1726-0531

Publication date: 5 February 2018



The purpose of this paper is to present a road map to implement Lean-Kaizen concept using value stream mapping (VSM) to identify hidden continuous improvement opportunities in a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) located at the non-capital region of India.


From the collected data, a current state map was prepared that indicated the current operating situation of selected SME. The takt time was calculated and those processes which attained higher cycle time (C/T) than takt time were identified. The continuous flow processing was achieved by adjusting C/T of each process and supermarket pull system was developed to control the production at the workstations. Finally, a future state map was developed that served as a guide for future lean activities. Few problems were identified to realize the future state. The “5-why” analysis was used for identifying root causes of these problems and Kaizen events were proposed as solutions. In this case study, one Kaizen event was identified in which brainstorming technique was used to control the variation caused by unorthodox fixture design for clamping and de-clamping of case product and thus eliminated non-value-added activities performed by the operator on a milling machine.


Before and after implementation of value stream map, the data obtained were analyzed and eliminated rework time, reduced inventory level, reduced lead time and C/T, improved productivity and product quality are presented as finding. Lean-Kaizen provides a better chance for every individual of the industry to have a hand in achieving organization’s goals to attain continuous progress in productivity and quality of the product. Even good understanding of the concept of lean tools and techniques by SMEs, the employee willingness and motivation to identify and eliminate wastes are found feeble.


This study is among best practices to identify hidden improvement opportunities in the regular production of the product to increase productivity and improve quality using value stream map. The research paper gives useful understandings to the lean implementers, Kaizen identifiers, consultants and researchers.



Kumar, S., Dhingra, A. and Singh, B. (2018), "Lean-Kaizen implementation", Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 143-160. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEDT-08-2017-0083

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

1. Introduction

In the recent global competitive world, the customer expectation is higher from their purchases. Indian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are also under consistent pressure by customers and competitors for producing quality products at the lowest cost. To meet these expectations, the manufacturers are working on adopting lean tools/technologies/principles/methodologies by implementing continuous improvement programs that minimize product cost, faster delivery time and improves the quality of products (Singh and Singh, 2012; Patyal and Koilakuntla, 2017). These SMEs are organizing employee’s training to understand the concept of lean and its principles for optimizing the product and process by elimination waste to achieve competitive advantages. The on-job training of employees is also recommended which focuses on the development of new concepts, skill and multi-skill building, problem-solving, learning about organizational changes and other important factors (Khan et al., 2007). Japanese used such waste elimination techniques more effectively since 1980s to achieve global competitiveness and demonstrated a greater commitment to the philosophy of continuous improvement than other countries (Bowles and Hammond, 1991; Mclean et al., 2017).

Lean-Kaizen is a relatively novel concept and becomes unknown to employees in most of the Indian organizations. It is a straightforward improvement technique that assists in attempting different inefficiencies in any sort of organization. It is composed of two words, that is, the Lean and the Kaizen, lean means elimination of non-value-added activities and Kaizen means continuous improvement; hence, Lean-Kaizen means continuously elimination of waste through small improvements. Kaizen is a popular technique that applies to eliminate wastes at all level of any organization (Vamsi Krishna Jasti and Kodali, 2014). It follows umbrella concept which focuses on the process improvement by eliminating waste in the process; thus, it provides a base for lean manufacturing (LM) that directed toward the achievement of continuous improvement. It is referred as the key building block of lean thinking (Womack and Jones, 1996). Henry Ford first understood and described many of the concepts of what is today known as LM and Kaizen. He observed that standardization and innovation as two sides of the same coin. He applied LM and Kaizen principles at every opportunity, seeking constantly to reduce waste, variations, system cycle times and improved overall performance. However, the main objective of Lean-Kaizen is the simultaneous achievement of excellence in quality, cost and delivery; it provides a better understanding of every individual of the organization to participate in achieving goals of the organization for continuous improvements.

Many lean tools and techniques, including visual control, poka-yoke, value stream mapping (VSM), cellular manufacturing, standardization of work, visual, quick change over, pull system and kanban, called lean building blocks (Alukal and Manos, 2007) have been used for eliminating wastes in manufacturing processes. This paper represents a case study of implementing Lean-Kaizen concept using VSM to identify hidden opportunities for productivity and quality improvements in SME situated at the non-capital region in India. From the collected data, a current state map was prepared that indicated the current operating situation of the organization. The takt time was calculated and those processes which attained higher cycle time (C/T) than takt time were identified. The possibilities of continuous flow processing and supermarket pull system were generated to control the production of the process. Finally, a future state map was developed that served as a guide for future lean activities. To realize the future state, two major problems were identified. The “5-why” method was used for identifying root causes of these problems and Kaizen events were proposed as solutions by brainstorming techniques. Before and after implementation of VSM, the data obtained were analyzed and conclusions are made that Lean-Kaizen is an effective tool to achieve continuous improvement for SMEs.

This paper contributes to the research on production and quality system improvement in two dimensions. It presents a roadmap for implementation of novel technique “Lean-Kaizen” in Indian SME to grab hidden improvement opportunities presented in routine (daily) production of products in workshops which keep the organizations on the right track of continuous improvement. Second, it highlights issues that restrict organizations, employees and system not to follow Lean-Kaizen approach in Indian industrial environment.

The rest of research paper is organized as follows. Section 2 represents literature review which is divided into three subcategories. The first category identifies implementation of LM and Kaizen in SMEs. The second subcategory presents recent research work on VSM and third subcategory highlights implementation issues and gaps in the implementation of lean and Kaizen techniques with success for organizations. Section 3 shows a case study of the implementation of the Lean-Kaizen concept in which VSM is applied to identify waste within the quality system. Finally, Section 4 presents the result and discussion.

2. Literature review

2.1 Lean manufacturing and Kaizen

LM is a platform that emphases on increasing efficiency and reducing processes costs (Lasa et al., 2008; Hallgren and Olhager, 2009; Barber and Tietje, 2008). It suggests smaller C/T, inventories and costs, higher quality, improved production and good customer services (Womack and Jones, 2005; Liker, 2006; Bicheno, 2004; Dora et al., 2013). Lean principles namely pull production, waste elimination, streamlining of processes, zero defects, continuous improvement and quality at the source have been implemented by many production or operation managers across many disciplines. The success factors of LM implementation are employee participation, top management commitment and proper skills and training. Kaizen has progressively accepted worldwide and can combine various waste elimination tools and techniques easily and effectively (Melcher et al., 1990). It works effectively within each organization (Brunet and New, 2003). The objective of Kaizen is to improve the processes and procedures (Grunberg, 2003). Kumar and Harms (2004) concluded that continuous improvement can be attained through mapping of processes to visualize wastes which consequently initiate Kaizen blitz activities. Bhuiyan and Baghel (2005) demonstrated that continuous improvement program supports waste elimination in the production line and enhance product quality. Bateman (2005) reported that the best way of improving the performance in internal and external quality of service is the process of lean implementation. Van Scyoc (2008) assessed various tools of quality improvement such as Kaizen, poke-yoke, etc., to improve the leadership in process safety and team work. Mi Dahlgaard-Park et al. (2009) illustrated that three techniques, namely, 5S, Gemba Kaizen workshops and process mapping, which are related to Lean-Kaizen have a direct effect on the processes and management systems (Suarez‐Barraza and Ramis‐Pujol, 2010; Suarez‐Barraza et al., 2009). They stated that these techniques improved the processes and quality of public services. Glover et al. (2011) notified that sustaining results of a Kaizen event is difficult over time for many organizations. They identified the factors which prominently affects sustainability of work area employee attitudes and commitment organization. Karim and Arif-Uz-Zaman (2013) proposed a methodology which enables systematically identification of manufacturing wastes, select appropriate lean tools, identify relevant performance indicators, achieve significant performance improvement and establish a lean culture within the organization (Suarez-Barraza et al., 2011). Dibia et al. (2014) developed social-technical model named as Lean “Leadership People Process Outcome” and measured benefits as waste elimination and process optimization that drive the industry toward continuous improvements. Arya and Choudhary (2015) notified that lean approach-based practices improve production efficiency and product quality. Gonzalez et al. (2016) studied critical success factors for continuous improvement projects and concluded that there is not a clear and concise set of factors mentioned in the literature that affects the success of continuous improvement program. Lopes Negrão et al. (2017) concluded that

2.2 VSM

Chen et al. (2010) implemented VSM for finding processes improvement opportunities by mapping current and future state of a fabrication process in SME. In this study, Kaizen events have been proposed as solution using Taguchi experiment design and rabbit chasing techniques that reduced variation in a plasma cutting process, reduced inventory levels (Garcia et al., 2014; Singh et al., 2010a; Seth and Gupta, 2005) and improved the system flexibility of the organization (Hartini and Ciptomulyono, 2015; Venkataraman et al., 2014; Jeyaraj et al., 2013; Tabanli and Ertay, 2013). Singh et al. (2010b) applied VSM to identify wastes (excess work in process (WIP), lead time and manpower) while by bridging the gap between current state and future state of the industry. Ramesh and Kodali (2012) proposed a decision framework for accurate selection of VSM tools based on organization priorities. The study concluded that VSM implementation process can reduce all system wastes (Gupta and Jain, 2013; Bhamu et al, 2012; Esfandyari et al., 2011; Hines and Rich, 1997), minimize resources and optimize organization performance level (Ciarapica et al., 2016; Das et al., 2014; Zhou, 2012). Vinodh et al. (2013) investigated the practical application of VSM and eliminated waste by 5S in a camshaft manufacturing industry. The study explored “how the managers can deploy VSM for waste elimination”. Dorota Rymaszewska (2014) applied VSM with Kaizen for further reduction in product lead time and to improve the safety of workplace in small scale industry manufacturing bench vice. Prashar (2014) used Lean-Kaizen approach using VSM for process improvement through redesigning assembly line in an auto component manufacturing (steering systems) unit. Kumar et al. (2015) discussed the importance of VSM by mapping the current state and the future state. The study concluded that VSM and Kaizen are effective tools to identify and eliminating waste in the process (Douglas et al., 2015; Kumar et al., 2015; Vinodh et al., 2014). Seth et al. (2017) applied lean with VSM for reducing C/T reduction in Indian industrial transformer making company and concluded that lean persists same for both simple and complex production environments.

2.3 Implementation issues of lean manufacturing and Kaizen

The lean implementation issues are regional based on country, geographic location of country and work environment of the organization (Lopes Negrão et al., 2017). The inadequate practices, disorganized structure and gap in communication results in several wastes within the organization which consequently makes the industry ineffective. So the elimination of waste and achieving zero defect in processing are main goals of LM which can be realized by distributing consciousness and understanding of lean, recognize lean drivers, eradicating lean barriers (Jadhav et al., 2014), developing team work by effective leadership, arranging cross-functional teams, suggestion scheme, adopt innovations and efficient information, appreciation to worker by paying rewards, improving system by applying lean principles (Anand and Kodali, 2009; Vamsi Krishna Jasti and Kodali, 2014). The application of appropriate tools and techniques, worker interactions, top management are main factors before lean implementing (Jadhav et al., 2014). After implementation of LM, the whole system and processes of the organization are reviewed to grab continuous improvement opportunities.

In today’s industrial world, however, lean thinking is prolonged to the waste elimination only (Lyons et al., 2013), the systematic procedure for applying lean strategies is still absent. In addition, the selection of proper lean approach depends upon common decision rather than logical explanation made by the organization (Karim and Arif-Uz-Zaman, 2013). Lean knowledge and capability which offer continuous improvement through education and training to both managers and employees are critical to the success of lean implementation (Netland, 2015; Sraun and Singh; 2017). Large-sized firms use lean practices more than small and medium size industries (Morodin et al., 2016). A huge literature has reported that SMEs have failed to achieve the desired results after lean implementation. From the literature, it is evident that a new methodology is required to identify and sustain improvement in products and processes in Indian SMEs that can majorly benefit to cost saving/reduction with several others as improvement in productivity, product/process quality, delivery and safety. Thus, the adoption of a novel strategy of Lean-Kaizen can help organizations to achieve competitive advantage and secure bright future.

3. Lean-Kaizen implementation: case study

3.1 Manufacturing industry profile

ABC Enterprises, a small and medium scale manufacturing industry located at a non-capital region in India is a manufacturer of automobile parts and deals in mainly kick starter (KS - Figure 1) product which is used as a spindle for kick assembly in bikes of across the country. The SME spreads in two acres containing 70 numbers of machines (working and non-working) with 150 numbers of workers working in 2 shifts of 8 h. It follows quality policy to achieve customer satisfaction by system implementation and continuous improvements. It owes its success to its LM operations and dedication to quality at each manufacturing step.

3.2 Present work

In the present work, a case study is performed by applying Lean-Kaizen concept using VSM tool in selected SME. Keeping in view the lean principles given by (Womack and Jones, 2005; Rother and Shook, 2003; Seth and Gupta, 2005), the VSM is done with pencil and paper by using a well-defined set of icons (Singh et al., 2010b). The process symbols are used to draw information and material flow in the production line of SKS.

3.3 Data collection

The data was collected mainly from production planning and control (PPC) and final inspection and in-process quality status records by taking personal visits to the selected SME over a period of 15 days. The data pertaining to existing processes such as C/T, change over time (C/O), numbers of shifts, numbers of workers, lead time and value-added time was recorded by taking three to four walkthroughs along with production line of SKS. In addition, the monthly/daily requirements of the product, movement of product and WIP/inventory in between workstations were also notified during walkthroughs. The collected data was analyzed and high rework, rejection rate and inventory of SKS are noticed.

3.4 Preparing current value stream mapping

Current VSM refers to the actual lane of the process that prepares on the basis of how works are being accomplished in the production line. It provides a pictorial view of existing entire process and guides to identify gap areas for improvement (where lean can be applied). In the current VSM, upstream flow (supplier) and downstream flow (customer) linked with shipment department are drawn. The upstream flow is drawn at the top which represents information flow that moves from right to left between customer and supplier via PPC department. The downstream flow is drawn at the bottom which represents the material flow that moves toward the right from left in the production line of product. Based on the information collected by taking walkthroughs along processes of selected SME, a current VSM is prepared (Figure 2). The process stages include ten processes, namely, Cutting (P1), Spline Deburring (P2), Face and Centering (P3), CNC Turning (P4), Slot Milling (P5), Shot Blasting (P6), Grinding (P7), Plating (P8), Final Inspection (P9) and Shipping. The raw material is ordered monthly and shipment reaches at the selected SME every week, thus inventory level of raw material is observed as 15 days which makes the lead time longer. Additionally, the PPC department is scheduling on weekly basis to each process separately via work orders and is receiving the status of produced quantity of KS from shop floor supervisor (go and see). A communication gap is observed between the individual workstations. However, the entire production system follows push mechanism, many work areas are observed with WIP exists for a long time. The production lead time and value-added time are calculated as 18.016 days and 345 s, respectively. Also, these times are shown by timeline presented at the bottom of the current map. The C/T for each process is the average C/T determined by the actual data collected from the selected SME. The process P5 is reported for high C/T (68 s) caused by increased rejection rate. It (P5) is also found bottleneck process at “Milling” workstation due to high WIP. The inventory storage points are denoted by the triangles between the processes.

3.5 Developing future VSM

On the basis of information provided, the current VSM is analyzed to identify non-value-added activities (waste) within the system. As the goal of lean is to reduce or eliminate wastes, a future state is needed to be developed that serves as a guide for all future lean activities. Using eight steps (Rother and Shook, 2003), a future VSM (Figure 3) is prepared by implementing all proposed changes in current VSM that identify wastes. The continuous flow processing and supermarket pull system are introduced to control the production at workstations. The signal, production and withdrawal kanban are used for systematic and effective movement of material between the workplaces.

4. Result and discussion

4.1 Takt time calculation

Under this study, a few assumptions are made in which operation skills, machine change and shift-wise variations are not taken into consideration for calculations. The selected SME is operating on 2 shifts of 8 h every day with an average customer demand of SKS of 18,625 pieces per month. The numbers of effective days in a month are 25 days by excluding 4 Sundays and one holiday. Thus, the customer demand per day is turned to 745 pieces. As the average numbers of working hours per shift are 7 h by excluding 2 lunch break of 30 min (each) and 2 tea breaks of 15 min (each), thus the available working time per day is calculated as 50,400 s. The takt time will be calculated as:

Takt Time= Available working time per day (seconds)/Customer demand per day (pieces)= 50,400/ 745 = 67.65 seconds per piece

The calculated takt time indicates that the selected SME is required to produce every work piece of SKS (finished) in 67.65 s to meet the customer demand. So the production facilities should be arranged in such a way to meet the calculated takt time.

4.1.1 Determine requirement of finished goods supermarket or supply directly to the shipment.

The customer demand varies unpredictably and the selected SME is not certain about the future requirement of the finished product of SKS. Thus, the industry decides to start a supermarket carrying two days inventory of finished goods that can possibly move to shipment in future. As the customer demands in multiple of 100-pieces trays, the kanban size is simply selected as 100. This means that each 100-pieces tray in finished goods supermarket will generate one production kanban. As the shipping department withdraws trays from this supermarket for delivery to the customer, the production kanban for those trays will be sent back to the final inspection process to produce another 100 pieces.

4.2 Develop possibilities of continuous flow process

Continuous flow refers to manufacturing one piece at a time passed immediately from one process to another without stagnation (waste). Summarize the total current C/T of each process of SKS (Figure 4). The C/T for process P5 is 68 s that is more than takt time because of the high rate of defective products produced which requires rework. So the C/T of grinding process should be reduced by identifying possibilities of continuous flow processing. As the other processes like P3, P4, P5, P6, P7 and P9 have C/T near to the takt time they can develop a continuous flow (Figure 5) and thus all these processes are shifted into one cell named “Production Cell” (Rother and Shook, 2003). However, the operation cycle of process P2 is quick and is completed within 5 s which is far away from takt time shows no possibility to fix into production cell. Besides that, the process P2 is a spline deburring process operating on spline machine can be performed near to the process P1. It has no C/O and thus can be easily combined to process P1. The possibility of incorporating process P1 and P2 into the continuous flow with the rest of the processes means slowing down total C/T of the entire production system. It makes more sense to run processes P1 and P2 as a batch operation and controls its production with supermarket based pull system.

The total C/T (seconds) divided by takt time shows that five operators (≈5.09) will be needed to perform these processes in a continuous flow.

4.3 Identify supermarket pull mechanism

Presently, the selected SME uses push mechanism which accumulates inventory between the individual workstations. The industry orders for raw material (bars) on monthly basis to the supplier and shipment reaches every week at the store by road. The current situation generates two kinds of potential problems; high inventory level of raw material and the possibility of no raw material for production. To remove these problems, one supermarket of two days for raw material is installed within the system which informs the production manager not only the availability of raw material but also the production schedule for blanks. However, the supplier was not convinced to receive kanban, the selected SME attaches an internal kanban to receive raw material and sent this kanban to PPC department whenever raw material is delivered by the supplier. Additionally, following milk run delivery system to collect raw material from different suppliers on daily basis eliminated 85 per cent of raw material inventory. The third supermarket of 1.5 days of produced blank pieces (after process P2) is essential to set up to meet the production cell minimum requirement of approximately 210 blanks per day. The time specified is provided for giving allowance to certain cutting and deburring machine problems. In the blank pieces supermarket, withdrawal and signal kanban are used to transfer the material in a systematic manner and are drawn by the dotted line on the future state map.

4.4 Identify the single point for scheduling (the pacemaker process) in the production chain

The implemented pull mechanism moves the material from production cell to finished goods supermarket where the product will be withdrawn and staged for shipment. Thus, the single scheduling point is clearly the production cell. As all processes downstream of the pacemaker process occur in a flow, the production cell is the pacemaker.

4.5 Determine the level of product mix at pacemaker

From the lean perspective in the value stream, batching is not desirable because it boosts inventory level and extends the lead time. Also, tracking quality problems is much difficult in batching. The production control would send customer order to the shipment (daily) where all the corresponding trays of the finished goods supermarket will be out at once and will be staged for shipment. In the production cell, the production mix will be leveled by installing the load-leveling box (Figure 3) which uses a stack of production kanban with each kanban corresponding to a tray of 50 pieces.

4.6 Determine the natural increment of material at pacemaker process

To supply the finished product to the customer, the selected SME uses trays to convey the material in which each tray carries 100 pieces of SKS (standard tray size for delivery). Thus, the pitch (natural increment) is calculated as:

Pitch = Takt time × Tray Size = 67.65 (seconds/pieces)× 100(pieces/tray)= 6765 seconds/tray

This means that for every 6,765 s a tray of 100 pieces will be moved from 1 process to the next process corresponding to respective production and withdrawal kanban. The pace of increment of material will be controlled by load-leveling box installed over production cell. Each column of the load-leveling box denotes a pitch increment in each shift. The operator can retrieve a new tray of 100 pieces (production order) for processing after the end of pitch increment.

4.7 Identity the process improvement to realize future state

Out of seven deadly wastes (Womack and Jones, 1996), two wastes were identified in the production line, namely, defects and inventory which are essential to be removed or eliminated from the existing process to achieve the future state. These identified wastes are also verified from collected data by monitoring the final inspection quality status and in-process quality status records. Based on date analysis of defect wise rejection, production and downtime summary of selected product, the major problems such as dent mark (damage), more time consumption due to difficulties in clamping and de-clamping of SKS are found highly contributing in poor production and high rejection rate which ultimately increases the inventory level at process P5. Also, there is a high possibility of accidents during clamping and de-clamping activity. These problems demand extra time (non-value-added) and proper care during processing of the product. To achieve material and information flow in the present value stream, the selected SME requires to eliminate the following issues:

  • dent/damage/marks on the component during the P5 process;

  • difficulties in clamping and de-clamping of the selected product during the process;

  • more time consumption during clamping and de-clamping of the selected product; and

  • accident possibility during processing.

4.8 Selected process at glance and proposed Kaizen

The purpose of implementing Lean-Kaizen concept is to identify waste and eliminate root causes which generate waste. The future state map provides a pictorial view of ideal processing in future (Figure 2) which acts as a guide to direct the changes in the current status of the industry. The conversion from the current state to future state may reveal many Kaizen events based on various requirements arises during the transition to future conditions. In this study, Kaizen event (to be implemented at process P5) are selected to realize the future state of selected SMEs.

4.8.1 Root cause identification.

To assist the Kaizen event, the “5-why” method (Womack and Jones, 1996) is used to identify the root cause of the existing problem (Table I). In this case study, one Kaizen event was identified in which poka-yoke technique is used to fix dent marks (damage) on selected product by changing the clamping and de-clamping fixture design and ultimately improved productivity and quality of the product.

4.9 Performing Kaizen event

The proposed Kaizen events are performed by taking actions on root causes of the selected problems.

4.9.1 Kaizen event: eliminating dent mark (damage) at P5 highlighted as improvement opportunity through brainstorming.

The P5 process activities were explored by brainstorming process (Buggie, 2003) in which a conference meeting of four to six relevant members was called to perform brainstorming session for the purpose of seeking a solution of identified problem. To eliminate dent mark (damage) in the present case, the unorthodox clamping and de-clamping fixture were observed in which clamping and de-clamping were done by tightening and loosing bolt mounted on the fixture. The installation of the work piece was tedious and the high possibility of accidents was reported. The consumption of clamping and de-clamping time was more and the process required skilled worker in the P5 process. Thus, a new design of clamping and de-clamping fixture was recommended in which two work pieces could be mounted on the same time and clamping (tightening) and de-clamping (loosing) activity could be done by the handle.

4.9.2 Implementation: clamping and de-clamping fixture design change for grabbing improvement opportunity at P5.

In the present situation, all the operational activities including clamping and de-clamping of the work piece for slot milling operation at P8 were physically verified by the author and found that dent mark (damage) presently contributing in-house rejection of selected SME. This problem was fixed by changing clamping and de-clamping fixture design in which the clamping and de-clamping activity was done by the handle (Figure 6). The newly designed fixture installed two work pieces on same time for processing which not only eliminated the quality problem but also increased the productivity of the component by reducing C/T for each work piece. The production was monitored for 8 h in which no dent mark (damage) was observed in the production of 780 pieces.

Besides implementing these Kaizen events, electronic information and kanban system (as stated earlier while developing future state) were implemented to minimize the inventory level of selected SME.

4.10 Result analysis

Result analysis has been made on the basis of data obtained from before and after VSM implementation to measure the effectiveness of Lean-Kaizen concept for identifying Kaizen events. Some tangible and intangible benefits of lean implementation are observed in form of elimination of rejection rate and rework, improvement in productivity and quality of the SKS.

4.10.1 Lean improvements.

The proposed Kaizen events were applied within a period of 20 days and following results and benefits are presented as improvements in the selected SME. Improvements in productivity of SKS product. The process measured several benefits reported as follows:

  • reduced in clamping and de-clamping time for each work piece by 51.72 per cent (changed from 58 s to 28 s);

  • production per hour increased by 47 per cent at P5 (Figure 7);

  • the manpower requirement reduced by 50 per cent (from 10 to 5 workers);

  • production lead time reduced by 69.47 per cent (from 18.016 days to 5.5 days);

  • the value-added time (total C/T) reduced by 75.25 per cent (from 345 s to 102 s); and

  • achieved smooth production and ease in working condition.

4.10.2 Improvements in quality of SKS products.

No rejection was reported in each shift due to wheel touch (mark) and steps on outer diameter problems for a test period of 20 days. Many other benefits were reported as under:

  • saved rejection cost of 2.35 lacs INR per year due to poor quality (Appendix) and attained zero customer complaints and zero in-house rejection quantity; and

  • cost per work piece reduced by 50 per cent (Figure 8).

4.11 Discussion

Many individual organizations have used various lean tools and techniques such as Just in time, set up reduction, 5S, TPM, etc. for becoming lean and reported significant benefits; however, it is obvious that there is a need to understand the entire system to achieve maximum benefits. In this research work, an endeavor has been applied to discuss the implementation of Lean-Kaizen concept using VSM tool in SME manufacturing SKS for the automobile sector. One Kaizen events were proposed to recognize solutions to overcome the identified problems (possible wastes) of the selected product. The data collected after Lean-Kaizen implementation reported a significant reduction in cost reduction, inventory level, lead time, non-value-added time and ultimately improved productivity and quality of the product. In addition, the communication has become simplified so that quality problems can be easily traced within the system. The conclusions are made as the Lean-Kaizen using VSM tool is an effective and reliable improvement technique which helps to tackle all types of inefficiencies in all sorts of organizations. It provides a better chance for every individual of the organization to have a hand in attaining organization’s goals to achieve continuous progress in quality of product at lower cost. It also provides various scopes of improvements in real-time working at shop floor area every time whenever implemented. However, the result of this research supports the findings from the previous studies (Singh et al., 2010b; Prashar, 2014; Seth et al., 2017) to eliminate wastes of the organization, but practices of lean implementation with Kaizen events in real-time situations of SMEs are found rare. This method can be applied to all kinds of products, procedures and processes to achieve improvements in system, process or procedure and reduction in training time of company’s employees to optimize many lean benefits. The research highlights following issues that restrict organizations and employees not to adopt lean approach in Indian industrial environment.

  • due to poor practice of LM and Kaizen techniques, the Indian managers are not able to recognize wastes within system and process;

  • the theoretical concept of lean and Kaizen is on the fingertips of employees and managers, but the lack of practical exposure is observed during the study in Indian SMEs; and

  • even good understanding of the concept of lean tools and techniques, the employee willingness and motivation to identify and eliminate wastes are found feeble.

The possible solutions for these identified issues may be employee awareness, management focus and employee motivation to adopt lean tools and techniques by organizing small-small improvement activities that ease the work or work conditions, enhance production volume or product quality and healthier the procedure or system and training to identify and eliminate wastes across the organization by proper understanding and practices of lean concept. However, this research has shown the optimized result, but the methodology can be further adopted to explore for result optimization by collecting data after implementation of Kaizen events in all the selected industries. Furthermore, the application of this approach would be suggested for similar types of cases in large varieties of SMEs.


Kick starter

Figure 1.

Kick starter

Current VSM

Figure 2.

Current VSM

Future VSM

Figure 3.

Future VSM

Summary of current cycle time and takt time

Figure 4.

Summary of current cycle time and takt time

Production cell cycle time after continuous flow processing

Figure 5.

Production cell cycle time after continuous flow processing

Setting time and rejection quantity before and after VSM implementation

Figure 6.

Setting time and rejection quantity before and after VSM implementation

Production per hour before and after VSM implementation

Figure 7.

Production per hour before and after VSM implementation

Cost per piece before (1) and after (2) VSM implementation

Figure 8.

Cost per piece before (1) and after (2) VSM implementation

“5 why” method for identifying the root cause of selected problems

5-Why method Dent mark (damage) during P5 process
Why 1 Dent (damage) mark obtained due to poor clamping during the process
Why 2 Clamping and de-clamping activity was time-consuming and the process needed extra care during work
Why 3 An unorthodox way to clamp and de-clamp of the component for the milling process
Why 4 No provision other than fixture was presented on the machine for processing
Why 5 Unorthodox fixture design for clamping and de-clamping
Root Cause Unorthodox fixture design for clamping and de-clamping causes dents marks (damage) on the product

Appendix. Rejection cost calculations of SKS

Total numbers of rejection (defects) observed/month (average) = 1,912

Total numbers of rejected part turned to scrap (by wheel marks and steps on OD)/month (average) = 272

Total numbers of rejected part turned to scrap/year (average) = 272 × 12 = 3,264 Price of SKS per piece = 72 INR

Thus, the total rejection cost of SKS due to poor quality per year = 3,264 × 72 = 2, 35,008 INR


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Corresponding author

Sunil Kumar is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: sunil.panchal2007@gmail.com

About the authors

Sunil Kumar is a PhD Research Scholar at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of University Institute of Engineering & Technology in Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, Haryana, India. His research interests include continuous improvement, total quality management, lean manufacturing and quality management system. He published papers in several national conferences.

Ashwani Dhingra is working as an Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University Institute of Engineering & Technology of Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak-124001, Haryana, India. He had obtained a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology Kurukshetra-136119, Haryana, India along with master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Panjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. He has published number of research articles in different journals of repute. He had also received young scientist award for international conference abroad twice from Department of Science & Technology, New Delhi. He is also supervising number of students for the PhD degree and having more than 12 years of teaching/research experience. His research interest includes operation management, lean manufacturing, advanced machining, metaheuristics and biofuels.

Bhim Singh is presently associated with Sharda University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India as a Director Principal and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He holds a PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering (Lean Manufacturing) from National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra. He has published many research papers in various journals of repute. He has received best reviewer award in 2010 and outstanding paper award in 2011 from Emerald Insight. He has delivered invited talks/key-note speeches in various conferences in India and abroad. His research area is statistical quality control, operation management, supply chain management and lean manufacturing.