What is a Gemba Walk:  Record & Digitize the Shop-floors Observations

Suppose you are like any other manufacturing manager. In that case, you’ll agree with me when I say – you can’t improve the shop-floor productivity and efficiency of shop floor employees sitting in office corners and only attending KPI meetings.
It is essential to go and observe where the real work happens, and that’s where Gemba Walk comes into the picture.
The Gemba walk is a pivotal part of lean manufacturing methodology. It empowers managers to observe and record the actual work process, gain knowledge about the work process, engage with employees, and explore opportunities for continuous improvement.
Let’s explore the Gemba walk in detail.

What Is a Gemba Walk?

As per the records, “Gemba” is a Japanese word that means “the real place”.

In simpler words, for cricket teams, ‘Gemba’ is their playing ground. For manufacturers, it’s the shop floor: where the actual work happens, so companies can observe, record, and analyze it.
There are three essential elements of this lean manufacturing tool:
  1. Go and see – The main goal of the Gemba walk is for leaders and managers to take regular shop-floor walks and to be involved in finding ways to improve the process.
  2. Ask Why – A Gemba walk involves exploring the processes in detail and locating its problematic parts through active communication. A leader who wants to improve is always eager to listen rather than talk. 
  3. Respect People – Keep in mind that pointers fingers and blaming people are not the goal of Gemba walk. Managers aren’t there to judge and review results, and finding the process’s weak areas is the goal, not the people’s.

The Gemba Walk is a tool that anyone can use within an organization, but it is typically led by senior management. The walk aims to identify problems and find solutions for them. Gemba walks are a vital part of any Lean or Six Sigma initiative and can help organizations to improve their overall performance.

Why are Gemba Walks Important?

Gemba walks are essential because they allow managers to look at what is happening in their operations. They also help to identify problems and potential improvements.
By talking to employees and observing work processes, managers can better understand how the work is done and what can be done to improve it.

How to do a Gemba Walk?

To truly understand what’s happening in your business, you must get out of the office and onto the front lines.
A Gemba Walk typically follows a set format:
  1. Plan: Decide what you want to observe and why. Make sure you have the right people with you who can answer your questions.
  2. Observe: Pay attention to everything around you and take notes on what you see. Ask employees questions about their work and try to understand their challenges.
  3. Analyze: Once you’ve gathered all of your information, it’s time to start analyzing it. Look for patterns and trends that can help you identify areas for improvement.
  4. Take Action: Based on your observations, decide what changes need to be made to improve the process. Implement these changes and track their impact over time.
A Gemba Walk can be a precious tool for any business owner or manager.

How Long Should a Gemba Walk Take?

You’ve heard about Gemba walks, but you’re not quite sure what they are or how long they should take.

Ideally, a Gemba walk should take no more than one hour, allowing enough time to gather meaningful data and observations without disrupting workflow.

Of course, the length of the walk will vary depending on the size and complexity of the facility being observed.

How Often Should You Do a Gemba Walk?

The Gemba Walk is a powerful tool for Lean and Six Sigma practitioners. But how often should you do a Gemba Walk?
There is no one answer to this question – it depends on the organization and the problem being addressed. However, we typically recommend doing a Gemba Walk once weekly, giving you enough time to implement changes based on what you observe while not overwhelming your team with too many changes.
If you are just starting with Gemba Walks, you may want to do them more frequently at first. This will help you get a feel for the process and identify any areas that need improvement. Once you understand how Gemba Walks work, you can start spacing them out more.
Whatever frequency one chooses, the important thing is to be consistent. Doing Gemba Walks regularly will help you continuously improve your processes and identify problems before they become more significant issues.

How to Do a Gemba Walk Effectively

A Gemba walk is a powerful tool for continuous improvement, but only if it is done effectively. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your Gemba walks:

1. Define the purpose of the walk

What are you trying to achieve? Is it to understand a process, identify waste, or solve a specific problem? A clear purpose will help you get the most out of your walk.

2. Involve the people who work in the process.

And they are the experts and will be able to provide valuable insights. Make sure to involve front-line employees as well as supervisors and managers.

3. Go slowly and take your time.

This is not a race, and you want to take the time to observe and understand what is happening in the process.

4. Ask questions and probe deeper.

Don’t just accept things at face value – ask why things are done a certain way and explore alternatives.

5. Be open-minded and objective.

Remember that the walk’s purpose is to improve the process, not to point fingers or assign blame.

Gemba Walk Examples

Here are some of the examples in which the Gemba walk can be performed in your organization:
  • Observe the work being done.
  • Talk to employees about their work.
  • Look for ways to improve safety.
  • Identify ways to improve quality.
  •  Look for ways to reduce waste.
  •  Improve the flow of work.
  • Make suggestions for improvement.
  • Follow up after the Gemba Walk to make sure improvements are made.

How to Digitize Gemba Walk?

Organizations today rely heavily on paper forms and checklists for conducting Gemba walks. However, this is no longer the only way to go. Most organizations can benefit significantly from digitizing their Gemba Walk process.
With Gemba Walk Digital Checklists, there is no need to search through mountains of paperwork to find the proper document or list. Everything is right at your fingertips, making it easy to start your Gemba Walk quickly.

If you’re looking for a solution to digitize the Gemba Walk operations, we have developed one app that can help.

Digitize your Gemba Walk Reservations Within a Week!

Axonator for Quality Assurance and Quality Control

The purpose of this article is to provide an in-depth look at the Gemba walk. We’ve covered everything from what it is to why it’s important and how companies can digitize their daily operations.
We’ve offered a few checklists to help you put the concept into practice. The Gemba walk is a great way to start if you’re looking to improve your communication skills or gain a deeper understanding of how your business works.
Explore some of the topic-notch enterprise-grade software solutions and digital checklists to get started!

Explore Easy-to-use Gemba Walk Solutions to Digitize Your Shop Floor Observations

Why Axonator?

  • World’s first mobile-focused & Highly customizable no-code architecture to support real-world scenarios.
  • Deploy enterprise-grade solutions rapidly as per unique requirements
  • Achieve Paperless quality audits and inspections
  • Generate reports automatically and automated data collection for trends and analytics
  • Streamline processes and implement a fully automated system within weeks using Axonator’s MicroApp strategy
Available on Android, iOS, and the web, Axonator is a highly customizable no-code field workflow automation platform mainly used to transform your paper and spreadsheet-based manual processes and help you streamline your Gemba Operations.

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