Energy Savings Kaizen: Switch on to Use

hotel fridge green kaizen.JPGThis week we are leading a big group on a lean manufacturing study mission in Japan. We call it the Japan Kaikaku Experience becaue we learn from companies that have gone through or are still going through kaikaku , a lean business transformation. The study mission is also designed to give participants a personal kaikaku, or mental transformation through seeing, hearing, discussion and reflection. We have done nearly 90 of these tours, looking forward to celebrating our 100th next year. I look forward to gems, insights or “a-ha!” moments with you this week.
Japanese society is very environmentally conscious. About 130 million people live in a space one-third the size of California, and most of them in half a dozen big cities. The mountains and the ocean are never far away. As an advanced industrialized nation the place would go to pot in a hurry if they didn’t take care of their environment. In fact Japan went from clean to polluted back to clean and is in many ways a benchmark in environmental and green kaizen as well.
Energy cost is high, so they also pay attention to the wise use of energy resources in Japan. Staying many nights in many hotels in many countries, this refrigerator on-off switch with energy conscious instruction label was a first.
energy savings kaizen refrigerator.JPG
The focus of many energy treasure hunts is to “turn it off” when the appliance or machine is not being used. The focus is to stop wasteful energy use. The condition of hotel refrigerators is that they are not used much of the time, but always drawing energy to keep the space cool. In this hotel the default condition for refrigerators is “off” until a guest needs to use it. This energy kaizen is simple and obvious but effective.


  1. Ron Pereira

    September 14, 2010 - 7:09 am

    It would be interesting to do a study on how much energy is used to “cool it down” once the switch is flipped. Now, if there are rarely guests who use it then, yes, this seems to be a great idea. But if it is being constantly turned on and off I wonder how energy efficient this really is since the fridge no doubt has to work very hard to get it cooled down from the “warm state.” Interesting idea though!

  2. Joseph

    September 14, 2010 - 8:20 am

    I am always amazed at the ingenuity of the people of japan. They claim Green Credentials for themselves by saying they care about the planet while wiping out the Whales.
    I think they can stick their claim to Be Green, where the sun does not shine. As I do not want to live on a planet that has destroyed such a beautiful species as The Whale.
    I will give japan a capital letter when they show that they deserve it.
    The only good thing is that they are not boasting to the world they they are killing the Whales at +/- 6 sigma rates and that they have Created Standardised Work Sheet for it. They can not see that the world they will be saving by switching off the fridge will be nothing like the one we currently live in. Picture a world with NO CREATURES AT ALL and then tell me its OK.
    There is no chance of saving other endangered species in poorer countries if rich ones like japan show that they do not care. When the Whales are all gone and every other creature that other nations choose to eradicate along with them japan can say. Well we did our bit to save the plannet by desigining a fridge that had an instruction to switch it off.
    I would like to give the Whales a switch to fight back.

  3. Mark Welch

    September 14, 2010 - 11:54 am

    Even though you moved the discussion in a different direction your point is a good one. The hypocrisy seems clear, however we can’t assume that the same people who are promoting the green method above are killing the whales. In fact, maybe the only thing they have in common is that they are Japanese. Just like Rush Limbaugh and I are Americans it doesn’t mean I agree with him. In fact, I disagree with most everything that man says and stands for. Yet, if someone judged me based on what he says and does, just because I am an American, I would think that their judgment was unfair.
    I certainly agree with you, though, that what SOME Japanese fishing boats are doing to whales and other species is horrific. Very tragic.

  4. Jon Miller

    September 14, 2010 - 2:34 pm

    Hi Ron. Interesting question. I wonder if the same argument could be made for leaving the lights, heat / air conditioning, hot water, background music, television on all of the time?
    Joseph – the Japanese are more socially conscious in some areas than people in some other countries, and less so in other areas. Everyone needs to take the best from everyone. Hard to do when we can’t agree on what is good.

  5. Joseph

    September 19, 2010 - 1:03 pm

    I totally agree with your assessment of my comments about the Japanese. However it must be understood that my comments were aimed at not only those who catch and kill the Whales but also the Japanese PEOPLE who elect a government into power that goes to WORLD MEETINGS and refuse to ban the killing of Whales. I have no problem eating Whales, White Tigers, Mountain Gorilla’s, Pandas or any other species if there is an excess. It is like every other food source but when the countries of the WORLD say thet they are endangered then some sick little country should not be allowed to continue the killing. When will they stop.
    If the government that represents your people takes an action then you can not wash your hands of what they are doing. There are no innocents when the government has made a decision. The Japanese government is supporting the eradication of Whales. So the Japanese people will have to shoulder the collective blame when they are all gone.
    On the subject of Mr Limbaugh. If your government supports his right to free speech then you must all take a portion of that decision when it goes wrong. He chose to insult a peoples religion. As a man of God he must understand the reaction that this brings from people who have A TRUE RELIGION. People have given their lives to and for most of the worlds religions. I am not Muslim but all people’s beliefs should be respected.
    I am not dealing with any other attributes that the Japanese people may have. As the Whales will be GONE for the whole of the World then they are putting 2 fingers up to us all when they continue KILLING THEM. Please either support it or condemn it but there is no place on the fence on this one. Wrong is wrong even if every one is doing it. And right is right even if no body is doing it.

  6. Jon Miller

    September 19, 2010 - 8:28 pm

    Hi Joseph
    I’m with you on the whaling issue.