Kaizen and Calibration





In simplest terms Kaizen means change for the better.

The keys components of Kaizen include:

  • Visual Order
  • Organization
  • Cleanliness
  • Standardization

The 5S associated with Kaizen,  seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke  are often referred to in English as:

  • Sort
  • Set In Order
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

So, how do we apply Kaizen and the 5S in Calibration?



A common problem many companies face is not being able to find their measurement and test equipment when they need it. One contributor to this problem is a lack of centralization. 

kaizen and calibration 5S sort alliance calibration.jpg

There is often a mix of employee and company equipment throughout the shop floor. Regardless of who owns the equipment its location and calibration status must be readily identifiable.There are many software platforms, such as CalEnvision, that facilitate location changes electronically and make them immediately available to all. I know of some companies that use RFID tags so that equipment location can be identified onsite and in remote locations. Depending on the size of the measurement and test equipment- using a RFID tag is not always possible.

An additional challenge are tools out of calibration that seem to "float" in to production. The traditional Red Tag is a very practical means to identify this equipment.


Set In Order

I am a big fan of shadow boards. They are an excellent visual tool for measurement and test equipment. Significant time is saved by not looking around the shop floor for your tools. foam shadow board kaizen and calibration alliance calibration.jpegNot all equipment is suited for a shadow board.  Foam cutouts for tool placement are an excellent visual tool and offer the benefit of reducing potential damage to gages. The use of Calibration stickers on equipment also saves time as you can physically look at the sticker and know its status. 







kaizen and calibration 5S shine alliance calibration.jpg

Dirt measures! Routine and proper cleaning of measurement and test equipment reduces measurement errors. Remember the owners manual that came with the equipment? Review it thoroughly to determine the appropriate cleaning method. As a general rule, solvents used for cleaning finished product are rarely appropriate for cleaning measurement equipment. Digital and Electronic measurement and test equipment do require specific cleaning methods. Don't just spray air on them.



Everything has a place and everything in its place. This is just the next iteration of set in order. Now let's talk about standardizing measurement and calibration. Work instructions and procedures facilitate standard work. In order to ensure the best service to the customer, all interested parties must understand the customer requirement and how to meet them. A standardized system of document control reduces variation.  You need to know that the instructions/procedures being used are the most recent approved version.  kaizen and calibration 5S standardize alliance calibration.jpegThis can become difficult to manage when you have paper copies floating around your facility.  In my discussions with individuals involved in day to day operations, document control presents a challenge in most facilities. Numerous Software platforms are available to standardize document control, but you will still need to address printed copies. Once you have implemented standard work you can then look at minimizing variation using MSA- Measurement System Analysis. MSA allows you to look at measurement results and find areas of improvement.



How many times have you seen a 5S program fail? In my personal experience SUSTAIN has been a challenge. There needs to be both management and departmental support. As with any improvement process, scheduled audits and training reinforce the expected outcome. Once and done does not work. This specifically applies to measurement and calibration.  Audits are easily facilitated with a checklist.  

Download our FREE Calibration Audit Checklist


What challenges are you facing in your continues improvement efforts?  Please comment below and let us know.

Phil Wiseman

Phil Wiseman

Phil Wiseman is Chief Marketing Officer at Alliance Calibration. He earned a B.S. in Chemical Physics from Centre College. Phil is an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor and ASQ Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence.

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