My First Kaizen Event

I participated in my first kaizen event last week.  The cause for the kaizen was to identify a standardized process for frying and grilling items in the MUB Food Court. There was no set process which caused employees to make instinctive decision that sometimes resulted in too much or too little product for the customers.  

We began with some data collection and analyzing the current situation.  With an understanding of what currently was happening we brainstormed what we would like the future state to be.  We then did a lot of data collection: cooking times for all of the grill items (thawed and unthawed timing) and then taste tests after intervals under the warmer to note poor quality intervals.  This data allowed us to set a standard for each items cooking time and holding time.

Matt Lean, who led this kaizen, had some data regarding which grilled/fried food items were sold at different time periods throughout the day from previous months of data collection. As a team we had to evaluate the data so we could find the average items sold at different 15 minute increments. One of the bigger and time consuming problems was which method to use to find these averages. It took us a good chunk of time and a check and adjust process to figure out which way worked best and in the end we were able to see the averages and come up with some possible solutions to our initial problem.

In the end we had a solid start on our new standardized process, as well as visuals for both the workers and customers to see (max hold times, cooking times for each item, “Grad n’ Go”, “Please Order Here”, “Don’t see what you’re looking for? Please Ask!”). My favorite part about the whole experience was getting to see others learn and experience lean. By the end of the kaizen the whole team had a good understanding of Lean thinking and how the kaizen approach works.  We all got to see firsthand how beneficial this type of thinking is.   

–Kaylee Betzinger, Student Process Improvement Coordinator


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