― How should we build that kaizen perspective?
I think the “lean manufacturing” that Toyota Motor Corporation systematized to cut away waste between processes is an instructive example. In lean manufacturing, work is classified into the three classifications of ① value-adding work, ② ancillary work, and ③ waste, and the method cuts the total cost and construction period for the entire process. If we apply that approach to road earthworks, the ① value-adding work is work that is intrinsic to the construction, which means using construction machinery for excavation, carrying, leveling, and compaction. If we try to streamline that, it is necessary to replace the machines themselves with construction robots etc., and major kaizen is needed. ② Ancillary work is necessary to achieve the value-adding work. Here it means surveying, document preparation, and measurement of the finished form. For example, abandoning the hand-written construction blackboard that shows the progress of construction works, and saving onsite work by using a digital version, automatically generating reports from soil loading data, and digitalizing ancillary work, can free workers to focus on their real jobs and reduce overall work quantities. ③ Waste is work that is not genuinely necessary, such as waiting time associated with inspections between processes. Remote environments have spread amid the pandemic, and there is growing interest in “remote presence”, by which video is used on construction sites to check things on site. Time for traveling to inspection meetings is eliminated, so this is a good example of reducing waste. Finding inconvenient and tiresome things and applying kaizen connects to the idea I mentioned earlier of “safe and easy ways to profit”.