101 Kaizen Templates

101 Kaizen Templates: ECRS Worksheet

By Jon Miller Updated on October 31st, 2020

We often talk about lean management being the elimination of all waste and non-value added. We may call it the pursuit of perfection, of a waste-free process. But what if we can’t eliminate a certain waste from a process? What to do? Try harder? Move on to an easier process and come back later? Call it “non value added but necessary” and look the other way ourselves for a while? We can still do kaizen if we remember that continuous improvement offers more than just waste elimination.

Eliminate, Combine, Rearrange, Simplify

ECRS stands for Eliminate, Combine, Rearrange and Simplify. It is an age-old industrial engineering process analysis method. We humans are not too bad at rearrange. But if we were a lot better at simplify, eliminate and combine, the world would be a better place. In keeping with the “motion” theme of the last few 101 kaizen templates, here is a motion-themed ECRS Worksheet.

Feel free to modify the questions in the left hand column as appropriate for your gemba. The key is to use the open-ended questions beginning in 5W1H (what, where, when, why, who, how / how much). Questions should not result in yes / no answers. Questions should encourage the identification of a kaizen opportunities.

Influence of ECRS on Job Methods, Kaizen and TPS

Art Smalley interviewed Isao Katoon about the influence of TWI on TPS and Kaizen. Here Kato reflects on the influence of ECRS in particular on JM and by implications later iterations of kaizen and the approach to waste elimination at Toyota:

Initially Ohno was a proponent of JM even though he thought it narrow and lacking the scope to drive the type of kaizen that he wanted. JM’s main contribution to improvement is the 5W 1H method of inquiry which he viewed initially as all right but eventually decided was too superficial. He was driving the broader thinking of the various forms of waste and the specific need to eliminate the root causes of waste and improve efficiency in the company. JM emphasized the principle of ECRS (Eliminate, Combine, Rearrange, and Simplify) and mainly looked at assembly job, machines, and material handling aspects of work but it just did not drive deep enough into the elimination of waste aspect strong enough to suit Mr. Ohno. Additionally, it must be noted that JM lacks any connection to takt time, flow, and pull style production. Eventually Ohno decided JM was not delivering results and instructed the training department to stop the JM component of the program.

Keep It Simple and Eliminate Thoroughly

There’s a hint there that TPS architect Taiichi Ohno may have applied ECRS on the ECRS tool itself by eliminating the CRS. The simplified yet broadened focus on the elimination of the 7 types of waste has certainly served Toyota well over the years. If we keep the 7 types of waste in mind and use the ECRS tool in combination with other improvement methods, it will be powerful indeed.

  1. Anonymous

    February 2, 2008 - 11:36 am

    7 days passed!!! takt time failed jon!

  2. Jon Miller

    February 2, 2008 - 8:01 pm

    Touche, anonymous. In fact I am way behind pace and will need to recalculate takt time based on remaining available time…

  3. Dave

    February 2, 2008 - 10:45 pm

    it is a new kaizen lesson for me! if I failed to produce on takt time, I should recalculate takt time, right?
    (the post above was mine too)

  4. eilianli

    November 16, 2008 - 8:44 pm

    I am confused for ECRS is used just for a station or whole process or partial? what is to get start?

  5. Jon Miller

    November 17, 2008 - 10:01 pm

    Hi Elianli,
    You can use ECRS for any series of processes. The idea is to eliminate, combine, rearrange and simplify some or all of a process.
    Start at the beginning, end or bottleneck, it depends on the operation.

  6. Sridharan

    October 17, 2009 - 8:07 pm

    First step in manufacturing Quality Product

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