In manufacturing a Gemba walk involves walking around the shop floor or your department to identify and improve on problems as you see them. The idea is to identify and solve issues related to reducing waste (time or materials) before they can make negative impact on the company. Gemba walks should be done by all levels of management and employees and last only about 15-20 minutes. This keeps it manageable for any employee to fit this within their day.
If you are considering a continuous improvement culture, it would be ideal to think about and implement Gemba walks early in the process. By engaging top, middle and floor level employees, you are able to see the immediate benefits of:
- Increasing credibility of management in front line employees
- Supporting a proactive culture
- Improving processes, tools and methods of doing work
- Increasing communication at all levels
- Reducing fire-fighting and reactive problem solving
- Increasing productivity, effectiveness and sustainability of good practices
The process is easy:
- Introduce the system to all employees.
- Setup a Gemba walk checklist outlining any verification points you want to be reviewed on every walk.
Sample department Question:
Is the employee aware of the PPE required for the area?
Questions to Ask Employees:
- What PPE is required to prevent you from getting injured?
- What do you do when you do not find the PPE required?
- Note #1
- Note #2
3. Create a standard schedule that occurs at least 2 times per day identifying who is do perform each walk.
4. Ensure those performing the walk take documentation on the assigned checklist. Do not try to solve the issues found right away unless it is a safety issue. But rather review, prioritize and assign solution creation to appropriate personnel.
5. Hold a weekly review meeting to discuss what is being found and to help remove any roadblocks to getting solutions implemented.
Set goals that are tracked by employee (ie 2 improvement opportunities identified per week) to ensure the team is sustaining the process.
Note: this is a condensed version of the procedure. Contact us to learn a more detailed approach if you wish to implement within your facility.