What is a Gemba Walk and How Can It Help Improve Your Maintenance Plan?

Most of modern manufacturing and industrial standards come from Japan, home of the Toyota lean manufacturing and Kaizen processes. As some of the greatest innovators in manufacturing, we can learn a lot from the Japanese style of facility maintenance and how they achieve peak efficiency at all times. 

One of the ways we use this at MaintenX is by implementing the Gemba walk practice with our clients. This simple step in our preventative maintenance programs improves our own efficiency on the job as well as the overall performance of our clients’ facilities. 

What is a Gemba walk?

“Gemba” is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “the real place.” From a maintenance standpoint, we refer to this as the place where the work actually happens – on the ground floor. The point of doing a gemba walk is to connect theory and plans to practice, and see what really works on the factory floor. 

The gemba walk aims to show facility managers how their plans and solutions work in practice, and to get feedback from ground floor employees on what needs to be done from the maintenance department. A real gemba walk is planned with an open mind and will immediately create improvements in your facility maintenance program. 

What to include in your Gemba walk process?

A gemba walk is not simply a walk around your facility checking for maintenance issues or service requests from employees. It’s a planned and calculated assessment of your preventative maintenance plan as opposed to the actions proceeding on the ground floor. For a successful gemba walk, you need the following elements: 

  • A regular time and date for your planned facility walkthrough
  • A focus (for example, your spring gemba walk can focus on cost-savings, while your summer walk can be focused on employee training and handling of facility equipment)
  • A list of questions for employees and maintenance staff
  • A list of metrics you planned to achieve (for you to compare against real results on the factory floor)

However, the most important thing to keep on your gemba walk is an open mind. If you’re simply looking to confirm your plan, you’ll miss valuable information that can help you improve your facility in the long-run. The more you listen and observe, the better your gemba walk will help you to improve performance across the board. 

To learn more about lean manufacturing and PM performance, visit our Resource Center. 


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