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The Art of the Kaizen Approach for Sugar Production in Ethiopia: Lessons from the Methara Sugar Factory
The International Journal of Operations and Logistics Management
  • Asayehgn Desta, Barowsky School of Business, Dominican University of California
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
9-1-2014
Disciplines
Department
Barowsky School of Business
Abstract
Business Process Reengineering (BPR) deals with fundamental organizational change, or is the great-leap approach to redesigning and retooling. It seeks to bring a radical approach to creating a breakthrough in organizations trapped in outmoded and outdated business processes. Top managers and consultants design new ways of doing things and force companies to go beyond continuous improvement of existing products, services, and processes. Though innovative, BPR is being challenged by some companies looking for a strategic remedy that will contribute to the sustainable improvement of their performance and quality, add value for their customers while minimizing cost and eliminating waste. To counteract the expensive and technology-intensive strategy proposed by BPR, many managers and policymakers have embraced the Japanese management philosophy of Kaizen. For incremental change of productivity and addition of value, Kaizen uses a gradual approach using existing technology, training work teams, humanizing the workplace, and liberating the thinking of top management and employees at all levels. Since Kaizen requires the use of existing technology and the retraining of existing workers, many poor countries that lack capital embrace Kaizen management practices for improving their enterprises. A case in point is the Methara Sugar Company in Ethiopia where the production of sugar declined substantially. This was because of mismanagement of the company, disregarding juice leakage, repetitive loss of electrodes, and the outright stealing of sugar and spare parts. More importantly, the cane cutters negligently left uncut 4cm to 22cm of the canes still containing sucrose. In addition, when machines broke down, there were lengthy delays for repairs and servicing while waiting for outside technicians rather than using in-house technicians. With the anticipation that the Kaizen management technique would enable it to increase the quantity of sugar, meet the needs of consumers and be globally competitive, the Methara Sugar Factory adopted the Kaizen management technique in 2013. As a result of pursuing Kaizen standards, the Methara Sugar Factory has presently achieved the best yield in the world (that is about 126.93 tons per hectare.) Both the size of the plantation and sugar production have increased by 35% and 37% respectively. The production cost of producing one unit quintal of sugar has decreased by about 23 Ethiopian birr. The overall time efficiency has increased by about 20%. In addition, since a sugar cane crop is very sensitive to climate, soil type, irrigation, fertilizers, and insects, instead of growing sugar cane year in and out on the same land, the company is growing peas in between the sugar cane plantations to replenish soil nutrients and to minimize the vulnerability of sugar cane to insects.
Publisher Statement
Originally published as: Desta, Asayehgn. (2014). The art of the kaizn approach for sugar production in Ethiopia: Lessons from the Methara Sugar Factory. The International Journal of Operations and Logistics Management, 3(3). 212 - 221. Publisher's version available at http://absronline.org/journals/index.php/ijolm/article/view/297/313
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
Citation Information
Asayehgn Desta. "The Art of the Kaizen Approach for Sugar Production in Ethiopia: Lessons from the Methara Sugar Factory" The International Journal of Operations and Logistics Management Vol. 3 Iss. 3 (2014) p. 212 - 221 ISSN: 2310-4945
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/asayehgn_desta/11/