GEMBA WALK – solution through firsthand observation

EEPC India Technology Centre, during the pandemic and lockdown period, has started series of seminars focusing on introducing various philosophy and technical application of ‘Industry Best Practices’ with the aim of upgrading the skills and knowledge among MSMEs. One of uch practice was an online webinar on GEMBA WALK, a Lean management philosophy, conducted by Mr D Karthikeyan, Assistant Head, EEPC India Technology Centre, Bengaluru, inspired by various published articles by Lean management pioneers such as Mr Taiichi Ohno, Mr Masaaki Imai, and Mr Jim Womack. This is extremely useful for the manufacturing sector. It emphasises on the idea of firsthand observation, improves clinical eye for detecting disorders, increases workers’ and operators’ involvement and empowerment, generates indigenous solutions through participation, and saves time and money.

Gemba Walk refers to the ‘workplace,’ where action takes place; it could be the shop floor, engineering department, service centres, reception, or any other location in a manufacturing setup, because it is a most important place in a plant where a company earns its money.

The concept of Gemba Walk is all about workplace management which focuses on PEOPLE, PROCESS and PURPOSE (3Ps); it is one of the 14 Principles of the Toyota Way, which mentions ‘Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation.’ In the current busy schedule we observe most of the middle-top management are quite involved in preparing production reports, checking, analysing, and identifying right outcomes of defined metrics and ways to improve them by means of multiple meetings in conference rooms, brainstorming on the printed production reports which track metrics such as Quality-Cost-Delivery-Safety-Improvements.

Whereas, Gemba Walk stresses the need for the Supervisors, Managers, Top Management at decision levels to regularly visit the shop floor and interact with the employees with a planned set of objectives, identified value stream, and pre-planned questions that could trigger employees ability to think beyond just following the set standard operating procedures (SOPs), in ways to understand the entire value stream of the process, their internal customers, and requirements.

Gemba Walk, in tune with this practice, helps the leaders involved in the study to understand the skill level of employees, communication skills, stress involved, behavioural changes, safety practices followed, motivational ways to bring in Lean culture, identification of areas for improvement opportunities, root cause analysis, foresee hazards and proactively plan remedial measures, and many more benefits to list where the current practice could offer.

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As the Gemba Walk leader should be able to understand the work environment, SOPs, standard work, and Gemba Walk process, this in turn ensures managerial development in an organisation.

Gemba Walk process focuses on visiting the place where action takes place/the place where value is created, dive into details and understand the process/problems, identify areas of improvements like MUDA, MURI, MURA (3Ms), work with your employees with great respect and analyse the data gathered. Various opportunities could arise such as addressing downtimes, cycle time, scraps, wastes, improving standard operating procedures, inventory levels, Kanban practices, changeover time, reworks, tracking metric in visual boards, 5S housekeeping practices, and many more.

How we can help

Based on individual organisation setup and products delivered, EEPC India Technology Centre could help its member companies in devising ways to implement this best practice being practised by many Indian industries over the last few decades – Maruti Suzuki, Ashok Leyland, Exide Technologies, DHL, SRF Ltd, Taj Krishna Hotels – and many more. We would help you in designing a well-defined Gemba Walk thought process based on value stream study, problem solving and departmental walks to address the mentioned hidden factory.

Readers may contact us to know more about how we could help in implementing one of the known ‘Best Industry Practices’ at your factory.

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