Karakuri Kaizen: The Japanese Way of Improving Business

Learn about this method of using simple machines in your workplace for more efficiency and quality.

cogs in the karakuri kaizen

Published 7 Jun 2022

What is Karakuri Kaizen?

Karakuri Kaizen, pronounced as ka‧ra‧ku‧ri ka‧izen, is a uniquely Japanese approach to improving productivity and quality. It involves using simple, automated machines to perform tasks that human workers typically do. Mechanically driven, the device uses no electricity, hydraulics, or pneumatics. It is also controlled by the mechanics' engineering rather than a computer.

cogs in the karakuri kaizen

One of the most notable things about Karakuri Kaizen is that it was designed to improve productivity without requiring any new technology or equipment investment. Instead, it uses existing machines and tools already present in the workplace. It makes it an ideal solution for businesses that want to improve their productivity without incurring a significant expense.

Karakuri Kaizen Mechanism is an effective way to improve productivity and quality in various industries.

History of Karakuri Kaizen

The history of Karakuri Kaizen dates back to the Edo period in Japan when many of the first automated machines were invented. A famous example is the Karakuri Ningyo, a mechanical doll made from the 17th century to the 19th century and used to entertain guests at parties and ceremonies. Hidden strings and levers operated these dolls, and their movements were often ingenious and complex.

Today, Karakuri Kaizen is an integral part of the Japanese manufacturing process, and many companies worldwide have adopted it.

Why Use Karakuri Instead of Computers?

One of the main reasons Karakuri Kaizen is still used today is that it does not require an expensive investment in new technology. Simple and easy to use, everyone familiar with mechanics can operate the machines. In addition, through the application of Karakuri Kaizen, it is possible to increase output without disrupting the current manufacturing process.

Let’s look at some of the most significant advantages it offers to facilities worldwide.

Low Cost

Since Karakuri doesn’t use computers, perhaps the most apparent advantage of using Karakuri is that it is considerably less expensive than other methods of boosting productivity. In many cases, the only cost associated with implementing Karakuri Kaizen is the cost of the materials needed to build the machines.

It is a significant benefit for companies looking for ways to improve their bottom line without making a considerable investment.

Simple to Maintain and Operate

Another advantage of Karakuri is that it is simple to maintain and operate. Unlike computers, which require regular updates and maintenance, Karakuri machines can run for years without any issues. In addition, anyone with a basic understanding of mechanics can operate a Karakuri machine.

It is a significant benefit for companies who want to implement productivity improvements without investing in new employee training.

Much Easier to Improve

It is much easier to improve than other methods of productivity improvement. Because the machines are simple, it is easy to make modifications and improvements. In addition, because Karakuri doesn’t rely on computers, there is no need to worry about compatibility issues.

It is a significant benefit for companies who want to quickly and efficiently implement new productivity improvements.

Deliver Safety and Ergonomics

Karakuri can also help deliver safety and ergonomics in the workplace. By automating dangerous or difficult tasks for humans to do, Karakuri can help create a safer working environment. In addition, by automating repetitive tasks or requiring awkward body positions, Karakuri can help improve ergonomics in the workplace.

It is a significant benefit for companies who want to create a safer and more ergonomic working environment for their employees.

Improved Quality

Karakuri can help enhance the quality of products and services. By automating tasks prone to human error, Karakuri can help improve the quality of products and services. In addition, by automating tasks that are difficult or time-consuming for humans to do, Karakuri can help improve the efficiency of production processes.

It is a significant benefit for companies who want to improve the quality of their products and services.

Karakuri Kaizen Beliefs and Values

Developing Skillsets

The Karakuri Kaizen belief is that people can create excellent mechanisms and kinematics by hand through developing skillsets. Humans, according to them, are at the heart of this change. Humans’ exceptional capacity for adaptation and inventiveness is what they credit for it.

The core production instrument has evolved into the operators rather than just their employees. Humans are the only ones who know how to get better at their job, develop new working methods, and find answers to problems. The consequence is that brilliant individuals build smart machines that are both inventive and influential.

Creating Smart Equipment

Karakuri Kaizen is a method of continuous improvement in which robots are used. These robots are passive and low-powered, using as few materials as feasible while drawing kinetic energy from somewhere else. The process, as a whole, is frugal and energy-efficient, thanks to Karakuri Kaizen’s innovation. The objective is to cut waste in all areas of the process, from movement to materials.

Promoting Sustainability

Karakuri Kaizen is not only about developing skillsets and creating smart equipment, but it is also about promoting sustainability. All kinematics are powered by renewable energy sources such as solar, water, wind, or human motion. There are no hydraulics or pneumatics in the system; instead, everything is based on gravity or friction. Even the movement of the robots is gentle, so there is no need for high-powered motors. This system can easily be scaled down or up, depending on the application.

Bringing People Together

Karakuri Kaizen encourages employees to continue making “kaizen” gains throughout the organization. It is consistent with the notion that there is always a better way, which is highly inspirational for a team. Taking this approach has many benefits, but the most important is bringing people together. Making “kaizen” a team sport develops fantastic team spirit and helps identify and solve problems faster.

Supporting Diversity

Karakuri Kaizen is an approach that supports diversity. It provides opportunities for everyone in the organization to contribute to improving the process. It’s unnecessary to have prior experience; all you need is a willingness to learn and an open mind. This type of environment is highly motivating and helps to retain talent.

Robertson Paredes

SafetyCulture staff writer

Rob Paredes

Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He is a content writer who also does copy for websites, sales pages, and landing pages. Rob worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade before joining SafetyCulture. He got interested in writing because of the influence of his friends; aside from writing, he has an interest in personal finance, dogs, and collecting Allen Iverson cards.

Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He is a content writer who also does copy for websites, sales pages, and landing pages. Rob worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade before joining SafetyCulture. He got interested in writing because of the influence of his friends; aside from writing, he has an interest in personal finance, dogs, and collecting Allen Iverson cards.