9 June 2018

Ethiopia: Kaizen in Ethiopian Manufacturing Industries

Ethiopia has started implementing the Kaizen philosophy some five years back in some selected pilot companies and organizations. The selected companies are more of manufacturing and some service sector. And the Ethiopian Kaizen Institute was taking the leadership in implementing the programmes beginning at a pilot level. Now the institute hopes to achieve improved production both in quantity and quality in all public and private enterprises and companies on a continuous basis.

In a Joint Consultative Forum between the government and industry sector held recently at Hilton Hotel, Director General of the Ethiopian Kaizen Institute Mokonnen Yaie said that the implementation of Kaizen in Ethiopia has been registering remarkable achievements in manufacturing industries and other construction development programs.

The productivity of the industries that implemented Kaizen has jumped from 10 per cent to 37 per cent over the past few years. Over 400 institutions have succeeded in implementing Kaizen philosophy, which are mainly focused on areas of import substituting in manufacturing industries.

In Japan, the word kaizen has a meaning of "continual change". Companies operating in Kaizen's philosophy are not only successful in Japan, but in other countries too. Enhancing the quantity and quality of production, these companies have been able to overcome the global market problems and maintain the satisfaction of their customers. Nowadays, one of the world's largest companies is Toyota, which is one of Japan's biggest carmakers.

With the launch of Japan's Toyota Company, the Kaizen philosophy is usually applauded for its world-renowned technology that contributes not only for the prosperity of many companies, but also for the growth of many countries. Some of the processes which will be implemented with the Kaizen philosophy are identifying the necessary and unnecessary materials, and then organizing valuable items from the invaluable. The process of cleaning, handling, and escaping among others are also included.

Implementation of such world-renowned philosophy in Ethiopia was started in recent years. It is five years ago since the Kaizen Institute has been established in Ethiopia. It has brought about real change in various factories at the pilot phase. It has been able to save 2.5 billion Birr by efficiently utilizing the resources and human capital that would be wasted in these years.

As of July 2017, 38 factories effectively implemented the Kaizen philosophy, as to the Ministry of Industry. However, the implementation of these factories was less persistent, but it is convincing that they have brought qualitative improvement in the quality and quantity of their productions. These factories are engaged in export market, and import substitutions, the Ministry highlighted.

Director of Kaisen Transition and Development in Food and Beverage Industry under the Ethiopian Kaizen Institute Asrat Gudisa said that, about 38 factories have been selected and implemented the Kaizen Philosophy in the past few years. Of such selected industries, meat, milk, chemicals, iron, cement and textile factories are involved.

According to the Director, these factories have been able to make a better and tangible change in their implementation. As a result, production losses have decreased, productivity has increased, wastage of raw materials is reduced, organized and well-functioning environment have been created, and inspirational works have been improved.

In the factory, it has been able to save about 13 million Birr in six months by selling unnecessary items and reusing various equipment. For instance, remarkable changes have been observed in Addis Garment and Adama Fabrics from textile sector, and in Shola Milk and Luna Export Abattoir from meat and dairy sector as well, the director noted.

Some of the problems faced during the implementation of the project were lack of support from senior officials, poor attitude towards Kaizen considering it as additional work, and delaying the process for the disposal of non-functional assets.

On the other hand, Derba Cement and the National Minerals Enterprise had quitted the implementation due to the shortage of hard foreign currency, Asnake said. "The major objective of the philosophy is not to save money, but to develop a culture of sustainable and continuing advancement in institutions," he said adding, "the institutions need to work together to create favorable conditions for a better, more favorable working environment."

According to Asnake, the Kaisen philosophy is always to eliminate wastages, reducing costs, increasing motivation, maintaining customer demand, and improving quality in a continuous manner. For example, when things are lost in the work place, a lot of time may be spent to find out from different documents.

Based on the Kaizen philosophy, when the goods are organized in their kind, it is obviously facilitating the speed of workflow. When waste is eliminated, costs will be reduced, more production will be attained, as well as time and resources can be saved. It is important to expand the company evaluation system and provide recognition for those which effectively demonstrate their best practices.

There are some people who say that kiizen is practically no longer being practiced in a sustainable way. What do you think about this issue? As Ato Asnawt said, "If there are institutions that make up a movement, I think this is based on a misunderstanding of the philosophy. Continuous change can never be fashionable. To be successful in this world, to compete, to progress to success. If this is not possible, it is not possible to compete in the international market. And leaving impoverished will be hard. So, if there are peoples who see it as a fashion, then it is their problem, not philosophy," he replied.

While the government is still providing much support to local industry, they could not become competitive in the international market. The reason is that they have not implemented a better implementation system, Ashenak said. Therefore, the institutions will be given attention to coaching, counseling and inspiring them so that they can continue to see their problems and continue to improve.

Toyota Motor Company, which starts implementing the Kaizen philosophy, is now a global huge company. The director pointed out that the company that received at this stage is due to its employees and leaders have developed the system as a sustainable culture. Adopting this concept, the Ethiopian factories need to work on the Toyota Way to become a competitive and giant company, Asnake suggested.

It is not always possible to say that all institutions, which are implementing the Kaizen philosophy, has brought about a change. However, although the implementation is still very early, it is possible to save time and increase productivity by simply setting up a conducive working environment. "It is a quality issue that confined us not to compete in the international market. Institutions who act as a fashion could not bring sustainable change. Rather, the institutions that have undertaken the implementation have come up with a real change," Asrat stated.

"Kaisen is a philosophical think-tank, not only for industries but also for all enterprises, as the continual change was not only for industry but for all institutions."

Generally, Kaizen is a management philosophy having its own systems, methods, procedures and problem solving tools. And workers at any place and time having objectives of improving work place organization, environment is its concerns in order to increase productivity, improve quality, reduce cost, increase profit with the ultimate objective of satisfying customers. It is an instruments intended to elevate customer's satisfaction at a higher level.

In sum, the implementation of the Kaizen philosophy at institutional level is essential to provide customer service and sustainable profit, and it is important to work hand in glove with other pertinent stakeholders. Though the overall achievement of institutions will put the nation in the position of prosperity, senior officials need to work for sustainable change.

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