Implementing Kaizen Events into Your Research Team’s Methodology

Lean Biomanufacturing, Dr. Nigel J. Smart

In lean biomanufacturing the term Kaizen events “refers to the impact of the outcome relative to the cost expended.” Much different than most constructive concepts, in a Kaizen event once the main event is complete, the researchers’ work is far from over.  In fact, their work has only just begun. These processes are quite complex and require strong attention to detail. A vital concept to take away is that each person involved in these events plays a key role in its process.

In the pharmaceutical industry one accomplishment is only the next “go ahead” to the next big idea and so on and so forth. Although time consuming, high-detail follow-up work is a must in order to best monitor and fine-tune each method. It is with this type of work that you will see adequate success with Kaizen events.

Let’s first just rewind a bit and explain what is involved with a Kaizen event. The process involves a “complete PDCA cycle performed within five business days, focusing on removing all forms of waste and bottlenecks from the process to create maximum value.” This should be normally factored into the process within 30 days of the event in order to capitalize on the work that was accomplished from there on out.

It is important to note that the cost spent should be ever so modest compared to the significance of such events. Kaizen events are indeed a focused activity and something that should be heavily documented. These events can be tracked with special documents known as Kaizen storyboards.

With a Kaizen storyboard one must first identify the problem or the current situation. The next part of the storyboard involves explaining one ideal situation. Following that step, one must pinpoint the target measures, such as target yield metrics or unit operation cycle time targets. The final sections of the storyboard include understanding the Kaizen plan goals and understanding if they have been met, as well as stating the Kaizen implementation results and standardization plans.

These events are no easy feat, so when they are complete, be sure to celebrate and congratulate your fellow research team, while also running with the momentum of your success to help with your next round of developments. Good luck and happy researching!

For more information on Kaizen events and lean biomanufacturing as a whole, refer to Dr. Nigel J. Smart’s publication, Lean Biomanufacturing.