Technicians on a Gemba Walk
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Gemba Walk 4.0 and the Connected Worker

One of the best ways of ensuring continuous improvement in the manufacturing process is for managers, leaders, and decision-makers to take part in the improvement process themselves by doing a Gemba Walk. Gemba is a Japanese term that means ‘the real place.’ In a Gemba Walk, managers and leaders walk around the factory floor to oversee  processes, talk with employees and get their feedback leveraging this crucial management philosophy. A Gemba Walk allows managers and leaders to identify and reduce waste, ask questions about processes, increase team collaboration and explore opportunities for continuous improvement. Gemba Walk 4.0 adds digital tools and data analytics to increase the utility of these Gemba walks by incorporating 24/7 real time data to power the continuous improvement process.

The use of Connected Worker Platforms can improve Gemba Walks by adding increased operational visibility, enhanced feedback loops and ease of communication between front line and the leadership team to achieve operational excellence.

Importance of Gemba Walks

The idea behind a Gemba Walk is to analyze and improve processes. The primary objective of a Gemba Walk is not about finding faults but fostering collaboration and enhancing communication at all levels within the organization so that they can tackle problems together. After all improving processes means improving the daily life of your works.  Gemba Walks also involves the process of identifying problems and taking corrective action.

7 Steps to an Effective and Successful Gemba Walk

1. Pick a Theme

First, you have to choose a theme to be effective and to be able to discover and solve process problems. There are many different themes you can explore such as productivity, cost-efficiency, safety, sustainability etc. By narrowing your focus you can get the most out of the experience.  For a Gemba Walk to be successful, make sure to prepare a list of questions to ask. You can put them together in a digitized workflow using a Connected Worker Platform. This will improve data collection for continuous improvement processes and keep you from forgetting anything crucial.

2. Prepare Your Team

The team should be notified in advance about the upcoming Gemba Walk and what theme it will focus on.  You can do this through platform announcements or chat integrations using a Connected Worker Platform like Atheer.

3. Focus on the Process, Not on People

Gemba Walks are not designed to improve individual performance. The principal purpose is to observe, understand, and improve processes and workspaces. The goal is not to find fault in your teams but to gain buy-in to create improvements in processes. Remember to ask for their input and write down what they say. Gemba Walks help build a great connection between front line workers and your leadership team.

4. Focus on overall improvement

The managers need to identify the areas of high potential waste. Eliminating this waste will lead to improvement in overall performance.  You can use real time data from Front Line or Connected Worker platforms like Atheer to discover areas where improvement is most necessary.  You can also ask for feedback from front line teams to point out where they think processes are inefficient. This is crucial for building an effective Gemba walk.

5. Record Your Observations and Do Not Make Suggestions during the Walk

During the Gemba Walk, write down everything that grabs your attention through notes, photos, and videos. This data will help you map the value chain with more accuracy. The Gemba Walk is a time for observation and information gathering, but not for immediate action. The more information you gather now, the better your solution will be later. Connected Worker or Front Line Worker platforms offer the ability to capture in real time videos and photographic evidence and other relevant information.

6. An Extra Pair of Eyes

For a Gemba Walk, the manager or leader can also invite a colleague from another department to ask questions because people who are less familiar with the processes have a fresh perspective. The data you collect during the Gemba walk on the shop floor with Connected Worker platforms can also be passed onto other members of your management team for their feedback.

7. Follow-up

After the Gemba Walk, follow up with the teams about what you have learned or seen. This will help you discover anything you missed. If you are going to take action after the Gemba Walk, inform the employees about the upcoming changes and why they are necessary. This could mean iterating workflows then redeploying them with new training materials. With paper based processes this can take months. This can be done in minutes with a Connected Worker platform.

Improvement in Gemba Walk with 4.0 Technologies

1Now, the Gemba Walk checklist can be created on digital platforms, which will simplify its execution for workers who carry it out.

2. For data collection support during your Gemba Walk, handheld devices such as tablets and smartphones, allow the managers to capture text, images, audio, video, indoor locations, and other measures leading to better decision-support and decision-making. The data collected will elevate operations management and enable lean production.

3. For data analysis support, visual analytics tools offer interactive visualization techniques (visual data exploration) to support human analytical reasoning for data-driven decision-making in lean manufacturing. This is crucial for an effective Gemba walk to discover issues in the production process and get a true view of the factory floor.

4. For data feedback support, Virtual Obeya rooms can offer person-to-person communication, sharing notes, posting and reading posts, and updating data and events. This is great for enabling discussion between teams.

5. Managers can “go to Gemba” on the factory floor using wearable technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) smart glasses using RealWare and a Connected Worker platform like Atheer that enable lean production.

6. The Gemba Walk process can be optimized by collecting visual evidence of the observation to facilitate the follow-up analysis of the factory floor.

Conclusion

It’s important to take regular Gemba Walks. Regular Gemba walks increase connection between teams, gather high quality operational data and provide insight to more accurately map the value chain and discover inefficiencies.

Companies can ensure that their managers and leaders are in sync with the front-line workers with the help of Atheer’s AR powered Front Line Worker platform. Atheer’s suite of digital tools and technologies brings teams together and empowers companies to improve  their processes through data driven iteration. It’s easy to implement because it’s a low code/no code platform.

Atheer’s Connected Worker platform improves data collection, speeds up data analysis and provides revolutionary visibility into the day-to-day operations. Front line workers can take ownership for their tasks and with digital workflows, and remote assistance from experts; they can work towards improving their performance continuously utilizing the principles of lean manufacturing for your work processes.

Contact us now to book a free demo to see how Atheer’s Connected Worker Platform can help you incorporate Gemba 4.0 and achieve digital transformation.

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