All About Flex: Flexible Circuits and Kaizen Events


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All Flex uses a variety of different tools and techniques in its continuous improvement efforts. A Kaizen event or Blitz is one technique that has resulted in significant improvements in our yields, productivity and customer satisfaction. A Kaizen event is a short-term effort using a dedicated team that is highly focused on improving a narrowly defined process. Kaizen teams usually consist of 3–8 members that include operators, engineers and other support personnel. The implementation phase of the event usually lasts 3–6 working days and the team members are removed from their daily duties to focus 100% of their time on the Kaizen effort. A Kaizen event is highly structured, and while the exact steps may vary from project to project, the process consists of three phases:

  • Planning and preparation
  • Implementation
  • Follow-up and tracking

Action items, analysis and recommendations are formally documented during each phase. The first step is to select and define the project. Kaizen events, as well as other improvement efforts, are selected based on a Pareto analysis that is presented to the management team. Selection is based on the process improvement that would have the biggest impact on one of the following:

  • Scrap
  • Throughput
  • Quality
  • Customer satisfaction

The planning and preparation phase of a Kaizen blitz can take 2–6 weeks. During this phase, the project charter is defined, a team is chosen, data collected and project orientation is performed. The Kaizen event can be disruptive, so the affected departments need to plan on how to deal with the potential disruptions.

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Editor's Note: This article is originally published in the April 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine.

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