Discovering Gemba Walks Good Practices within Industrial Lean Applications
Sáenz-Cortabarría Aprell, Álvaro Rafael
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Gemba is a Japanese term meaning the real place, the place where value is created. In manufacturing, the shop-floor. Gemba Walk is the lean practice referred to the action of visiting the Gemba. Top management involvement is required to achieve high levels of employee engagement, and that is where Gemba Walks take part allowing a direct two-way communication. Moreover, the walk provides executives with the opportunity to check if standards are followed, and to find waste and areas of improvement. Gemba Walks have been studied by different authors and are conducted in most of the world-leading companies. Nevertheless, there is no defined methodology on how to carry them out, so its practice varies from one company to another. Hence, the aim of this thesis is to develop a framework to facilitate an effective implementation of Gemba Walks according to industrial best practices obtained from companies such as Airbus Defence and Space, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, CEMEX, Interface, Termo Fisher Scientific, BOCAR Group and Instituto Modelo de Cardiología Privado S.R.L. The implementation should start by training both leaders and shop-floor employees, followed by a standardisation of the practices. In the Gemba, managers should make use of lean tools such as visual management or problem-solving methods, and document and share the insights from the walk. Finally, executives must return to the Gemba to sustain the practice and check if corrections are filled. Therefore, the result of this research will act as a framework for companies that do not yet consider them within their lean leadership tools, as well as in a way to assess the application of Gemba walks for those companies that already carry them out.