Identify the Gemba 7 Wastes
When you are attempting to operate a lean facility, you should always be focused on eliminating waste wherever possible. One of the best ways to do this is by learning about the Gemba process. Gemba, which is a Japanese term that means ‘the real place’ is an idea that essentially means that in order to find the real cause of waste, you need to go in and get your hands dirty.
By looking at the actual jobs that are done, you will be able to get a better idea of where waste is occurring. To further improve this system, the Gemba 7 wastes were identified. These 7 wastes are some of the most common types of waste, and having them in mind can really help you to pinpoint waste in any facility while walking through the facility floor.
The following 8 tips will help you to identify the Gemba 7 wastes more effectively, so you can have them properly eliminated.
8 Tips to Identify the Gemba 7 Wastes
Tip #1 – Remembering the Gemba 7 Wastes
The first tip is designed to help you to remember exactly what you should be looking for while going on a Gemba walk, or a walk where you are out on the floor looking for waste. There are many different Mnemonic devices that can help you to remember each of the 7 types of waste.
For many people, the easiest one to remember is “TIM WOOD” which lists the first letter of each type of waste to watch for on a Gemba walk:
- T: Transportation – When a product is being transported it could get damaged or lost, and transportation often adds little to no value.
- I: Inventory – Having excess inventory can be expensive. Any inventory in a facility is essentially untapped potential until it is turned into a valuable product.
- M: Motion – Motion in this system involves the wear and tear that the motion of creating products causes. This could be damage to machines or damage to the employees.
- W: Waiting – When machines or employees are not actively working, this is a key example of waste.
- O: Over-Production – When you create more of a product than your customers want, you will have to lower your price (waste) in order to sell them all.
- O: Over-Processing – When you are adding more features, options or other things to a product than your customers want, you are wasting time, effort and inventory for something that you can’t effectively charge for.
- D: Defect – Whenever a product comes off the line with a problem it will need to either be scrapped or fixed. Both of these options are a form of waste.
While performing a Gemba, just go through each letter of “TIM WOOD” for each activity that you observe. If you can find areas of waste, you can then come back and find ways to reduce or eliminate it. Let’s look at one effective way to reduce or eliminate each of the Gemba 7 wastes.
Tip #2 – Minimizing Transportation
When looking to minimize transportation waste, you really have quite a few options. Whenever possible, attempt to reduce the distance that a product has to be moved. This can be done by placing machines or workstations in successive order so that the product moves from place to place with minimal actual transportation having to occur.
Another option is to make the transportation itself safer. This can be done by putting down floor safety signs (which you can find here) and floor marking tape (similar to this floor tape) so that anyone moving products will do so in as safe a manor as possible.
Tip #3 – Reducing Inventory
A great way to minimize the amount of inventory you have to keep on site at any given time is to implement a ‘just-in-time’ production standard. This way you will only have what you need on hand at any time. In addition to reducing the inventory of what you need to make the products, this can also help to minimize the amount of finished product that you will have to store in your warehouse.
Tip #4 – Addressing Motion
The most important thing that you can do to reduce the waste related to motion is keep up on the general maintenance of your machines and equipment. By following a regular maintenance schedule, you will help ensure your machinery stays in good working order for as long as possible.
In addition, instructing employees to use industry best practices for safety at work, you will reduce the risks of injury to employees related to the motion of product creation.
Tip #5 – Stop Waiting
One of the biggest of the Gemba 7 wastes is typically going to be waiting. Many facilities have issues with scheduling employees properly, so they end up having people standing around doing little or no work. Coming up with an effective schedule that will allow the work to flow properly with everyone working hard will eliminate a significant amount of waste.
It is especially important to look at machine and employee time when you are staffed 24/7 as this can often add up to a significant amount of wasted potential. Whether you need to shut machines down for a time, send employees home, or simply find other work for them to do, you should always strive for the complete elimination of this type of waste.
Tip #6 – End the Over-Production
It can often be tempting to try to eliminate the ‘waiting’ waste by keeping everyone busy producing products. Unfortunately, this can lead to over-production, which is another negative option in the Gemba 7 wastes.
What is worse is that over producing a product will not only result in the waste of the extra products that might not sell, but it may actually cause you to have to reduce your price even on those that do. This can add up to a major source of waste, which is why it is so important to plan out production so that you only create what the customers demand.
Tip #7 – End Over-Processing (Give the Customers what they Want)
Over-processing should, in theory, be the easiest of the Gemba 7 wastes to eliminate. Over-processing happens when you try to push features or options on customers, when they don’t actually want them. For example, if you are selling a product in five different colors, but your customers don’t actually care about the color, this is over-processing.
It can cost a lot of money to switch the colors and may even end up producing wasted time waiting. If the customers don’t care about this feature, they won’t be willing to pay the higher price to get it. In the end, this means that you’ll have to ‘eat’ the cost in the form of a reduced profit margin.
Tip #8 – Finding Defects
While defects are typically rare in a well run facility, they can be one of the most devastating items in the Gemba 7 wastes. This is because a defect can cause a significant amount of waste. If the defect is severe enough, the entire product may need to be scrapped, which can be a major loss.
Even when the product can be saved, it will have to be fixed which wastes a lot of time and effort for the people in the facility. Identifying the root cause of defects so that they can be permanently addressed is absolutely essential for all successful facilities.
These simple tips to help get rid of Gemba 7 wastes can be very helpful, but they should really just be the beginning. Performing regular Gemba walks to find different forms of waste should be something that is an ongoing practice in your facility.
Check out this Gemba Infographic from Creative Safety Publishing
- How is Gemba Lean?
- Gemba in the Office
- Introduction to the Gemba Walk
- Safety Walk – Gemba Style
- Gemba Walk for Manufacturing
- Gemba Walk for Shipping and Receiving