Manufacturing is a complex industry that requires the coordination of various processes and departments to produce high-quality products. To maintain efficiency and quality, it’s important for manufacturers to have proactive management systems in place. One such system that has been gaining popularity in recent years is the Gemba Walk.
Download our Free Gemba Walk ebook
What is a Gemba Walk?
Definition: In the manufacturing world, a Gemba walk is the action of walking around a factory floor performed by management with the goal to identify problems, waste and improvement ideas.
The Gemba Walk is a management technique that originated in Japan and is used to improve productivity and reduce waste. It involves visiting the production floor (Gemba) to observe and identify areas of improvement. The purpose of the Gemba Walk is to gain a firsthand understanding of the manufacturing process and to identify and solve problems before they become major issues.
Gemba Walks can help with proactive management for manufacturers and how supervisors can conduct Gemba Walks to identify issues proactively.
Meaning of Gemba
Gemba (genba): Japanese word meaning “the real place”. It’s where value creation happens, but also where most problems and waste take place.
Why Gemba Walk?
The gemba walk is very important to sustain a strong continuous improvement culture in a company. Here are just a few reasons to do it:
- Increase in productivity;
- Increase of OEE (overall equipment effectiveness);
- Reduction of health and safety hazards;
- Increase in respect from floor level employees toward management.
How to Gemba Walk?
- Every two hours, team leaders walk around the work centers they are responsible for to identify potential problems that could happen in the next two hours, as well as improvement opportunities.
- Once done, the potential problems identified in the Gemba are prioritized and prevented by the team leader.
- The recurrent problems, as well as those that have a significant impact on the company’s productivity, quality or safety, are converted into improvement opportunities.
- At least once a week, the plant manager will meet with his team leaders for the improvement meeting, in which a follow-up on the improvement project currently in progress is performed. Based on the team leaders’ workload, new improvement projects can be started from the bank of improvement opportunities.
How to Conduct a Successful Gemba Walk?
To conduct a successful Gemba Walk, supervisors should follow these steps:
Define the Purpose: The purpose of the Gemba Walk should be clearly defined before starting. This will help the supervisor stay focused and identify the areas that need improvement.
Prepare: The supervisor should prepare by reviewing production schedules, safety guidelines, and other relevant information. They should also communicate their plans with employees and let them know what to expect.
Observe: The supervisor should walk through the production floor, observing the processes and looking for areas that need improvement. They should take notes and ask employees questions to gain a deeper understanding of the process.
Identify Issues: The supervisor should identify any issues or inefficiencies they observed and prioritize them based on their impact on the production process.
Take Action: The supervisor should take action to address the issues they identified. This may include implementing new processes, providing additional training, or making changes to the production schedule.
Follow-Up: The supervisor should follow up to ensure that the changes they made were effective and that the issues were resolved.
The Gemba Walk is a powerful tool for proactive management in the manufacturing industry. By regularly conducting Gemba Walks, supervisors can identify and address issues before they become major problems. Gemba Walks can improve efficiency, quality, communication, and safety in the workplace. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, supervisors can conduct effective Gemba Walks and ensure the success of their manufacturing processes.
Example of how Gemba Walks sustain Proactive Management
Suppose a factory produces automobile parts and the production line is experiencing a high rate of defects. The supervisor decides to conduct a Gemba Walk to identify the root cause of the issue.
During the Gemba Walk, the supervisor visits the production line, observes the process, and talks to the operators. They notice that one of the machines is producing parts with inconsistent dimensions, which is causing defects downstream.
Upon further investigation, the supervisor discovers that the machine has not been calibrated properly and is in need of maintenance. They schedule maintenance for the machine and retrain the operators on how to properly operate the machine. As a result, the defect rate decreases, and the overall efficiency and quality of the production line improve.
By proactively identifying and addressing the issue through a Gemba Walk, the supervisor was able to prevent further defects and improve the efficiency of the production line.
Benefits of Gemba Walks for Manufacturers
Gemba Walks offer several benefits to manufacturers, including:
Gemba Walks can help identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the production process. By addressing these issues, manufacturers can improve their overall efficiency and reduce waste.
By identifying and addressing issues early on, manufacturers can improve the quality of their products. Gemba Walks can also help supervisors identify areas where additional training may be necessary to improve the quality of the final product.
Gemba Walks encourage communication between supervisors and employees. This can help build trust and improve collaboration between departments, leading to better problem-solving and more efficient processes.
By regularly conducting Gemba Walks, supervisors can identify potential safety hazards and take steps to mitigate them. This can help prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace.
Why should you digitalize Gemba Walk?
Tervene improves and supports Gemba Walks by enabling four key elements.
- No more rewriting the same thing twice or more;
- Automated data collection and analytics;
- Seamlessly send an issue out as a task or in a meeting;
- Easily log a recurring issue as an opportunity for improvement.
Tervene’s gemba (the floor tour)
Tervene developed a solution to empower management to carry out structured, standardized gemba walks several times a day. These floor tours aim to identify and prevent potential problems from happening. This methodology has a great impact on reducing reactivity to problems on the factory floor, thus freeing more time for generating improvement.