Saving on manufacturing and production costs is one of the biggest goals for most manufacturers. But is lowering costs without lowering quality standards really possible? Two words: Gemba walks.
By following the Gemba Walk approach, you can make a significant impact on your operational efficiency within days. This low-cost but powerful technique is ideal for identifying problems and inefficiencies in the manufacturing processes and achieving incremental enhancements in quality and cost-efficiency.
In this blog post, we’ll explore how the Gemba Walk system can help you improve quality standards and reduce cost while driving continuous improvement in your manufacturing processes.
How Manufacturers Can Benefit from Gemba Walks
Gemba, a Japanese term for “the real place,” refers to the actual location where work takes place, such as the factory floor. The Gemba Walk, therefore, refers to manufacturing managers physically going to the shop floor or production area to observe operations, engage with the employees, and gain firsthand knowledge about the manufacturing processes.
While it doesn’t require any kind of investment, the Gemba Walk system offers numerous benefits.
Clearer View of Operations
By being present on the shop floor, manufacturing managers can observe the operations up close, identify issues and inefficiencies, and gain insights into the challenges that the employees face. In short, Gemba walks provide managers with a clearer view of operations, which allows them to identify areas that can be improved.
Better Communication and Collaboration
Direct interaction with employees in the actual place of work fosters open communication and encourages collaboration. It creates a positive environment where workers can freely share their ideas, suggestions, and concerns. This engagement leads to a sense of ownership of work and encourages employees to contribute to quality improvement and cost reduction costs.
Real-Time Problem Identification
Going to the Gemba regularly allow managers to identify issues or defects as they arise rather than relying solely on reports or data. This proactive approach allows for prompt action, preventing further quality issues and reducing costs associated with rework or scrap.
Finally, by participating in regular Gemba walks, leaders can nurture a culture of continuous improvement. By observing processes, discussing possible improvements with workers, and implementing changes promptly, manufacturers can achieve incremental enhancements in quality and cost efficiency.
Key Steps for Successful Gemba Walks
To make the most out of the Gemba Walk system and track your progress effectively, it’s important to monitor relevant lean manufacturing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
KPIs provide measurable insights into your manufacturing processes and help you measure the effectiveness of your improvement initiatives. Consider incorporating the following lean manufacturing KPIs into your Gemba Walk routine:
- Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE): OEE is a gold standard for measuring the efficiency of the equipment by taking into account factors such as availability, performance, and quality. Tracking OEE during Gemba Walks allows you to identify equipment-related issues, optimize equipment utilization, and minimize downtime.
- Cycle Time: Cycle time shows the amount of time required to complete one cycle of a process or operation. Monitoring cycle time during your Gemba walks helps you identify issues, reduce process inefficiencies, and improve overall productivity.
- Defect Rate: The defect rate measures the number of defective products or components within a given batch or production run. By tracking defect rates during Gemba Walks, you can identify the root causes of defects, implement corrective actions, and enhance product quality.
- Waste Reduction: Monitoring waste reduction metrics, such as the amount of scrap or rework generated, allows you to identify areas of waste and implement measures to minimize waste generation. This, too, leads to cost savings and improved overall efficiency.
- First Pass Yield (FPY): FPY measures the percentage of products or components that pass all quality checks on the first attempt without requiring rework or repair. Tracking FPY helps you assess the effectiveness of your quality control processes and identify areas for improvement.
The Gemba Walk system is a powerful tool for manufacturers seeking higher quality and lower costs in a relatively short time frame. This system, combined with tracking relevant lean manufacturing KPIs, provides a powerful framework for achieving higher quality standards and lower costs in your manufacturing business.
Implementing the Gemba Walk system and tracking lean manufacturing KPIs will allow you to drive continuous improvement, enhance operational efficiency, and achieve sustainable success in your manufacturing operations.