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Japanese management system at Saratovskaya HPP

Kaizen, meaning "improvement" in Japanese, is the name of the business process management system, instruction in which has been initiated at the Saratovskaya HPP.

The Kaizen philosophy founder, Masaaki Imai, first used this word in 1986 to designate the management system he had authored for Japanese companies. It is based on a striving towards continuous improvement through elimination of losses without investment. This system had become firmly rooted in Toyota factories and when it spread to Russian territory, the management of Federal Hydrogeneration Company HydroOGK decided to try it out in the hydropower sector. The Saratovskaya HPP was chosen as the pilot power plant.

In September last year, Russian specialists (OrgProm Centre LLC, Yekaterinburg) arrived at the SarHPP, sized up the situation and decided to initiate the operating staff into the continuous improvement philosophy. Not everything was, of course, a success, since introduction of Kaizen requires a system approach. Then, in 2008, an agreement was concluded with OrgProm Centre for a full year.

Out of the entire Kaizen philosophy, one sphere was selected for the hydropower workers — the Lean concept ("careful production"). This is a system of "simple solutions" for identifying and eliminating losses to produce products and services at the requisite speed and of the required quality, which should be implemented by all employees and in all lines of business.

"The Lean system is unthinkable without a change of mentality," says Alexander Savkin, head of the CAMS group at the Saratovskaya HPP. "Moreover, everything has to be changed: from minor details (such as workplace organization and housekeeping) to global processes, such as company target developing and stage-by-stage attainment. Everything has to be subordinated to scientific labor organization. In my opinion, this training is very interesting and should ultimately be effective. True, after just the first week, one does not really believe it is possible to change oneself fundamentally, as well as the labor organization system at the power plant."

"Personally, thanks to the Kaizen system, I noted several essential aspects," says economist of the SarHPP finance and economics department, Sergei Bulanov. "In the first place, all those who attended the classes, and they were specialists from different services and subdivisions, initially had their own ideas about production and its correct organization. Eventually, however, by applying the principles and methods of the Lean system, we reached agreement, developed unified principles and became a team. Secondly, when working together in a group with engineers, for me personally it was particularly interesting to learn more detail about all the production processes taking place at the plant."

The group that underwent training from 23 to 30 June included 14 SarHPP employees, of which three were heads of subdivisions. They all had "homework" to do — drawing up a detailed process chart of main equipment servicing. In mid-July, it is planned to hold Kaizen training for the company’s top-managers and then the working group will again engage in the improvement philosophy. And that is how things will go on, throughout the year, every month, until the system is introduced into the Saratovskaya HPP.

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