What's a Gemba Board & How Can it Help Manage Your Factory?

Thomas B. Jurasek, Bearex
June 13, 2022
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What's a Gemba Board? How can it improve workflows and processes? Thomas B. Jurasek at Bearex explains its value and versatility. 

A Gemba Board is a visual management tool that works cohesively with your existing set of solutions and keeps everyone on the same page. In order to achieve the benefits of a Gemba Board and capitalize on what it offers, it’s critical to take a step back and understand the true importance of a Gemba Board. It’s not just another software to add to the pile, or a tool that gets implemented but then goes left unused; rather it is a way of thinking, a full mindset for the organization to embed into their daily work to better manage workflows and processes. 

It all starts by looking in “the actual place” as Gemba states—by doing what is known as a Gemba Walk. The Gemba Walk introduces leaders and managers to meet their business head-on in a way they may not always have the time or means to conduct this full analysis. Its main focus is to be an active learning and engagement experience where those managers inhale everything in front of them without taking a reactive or defensive position. The goal is to observe, obtain, and have open dialogue. 

How to Use a Gemba Board

The value of a Gemba Board is not partial to just one industry or one style of workplace, although there are some workplaces that may benefit more from the use of a Gemba Board and its analysis. 

This may be a shop floor and a front-line team, a triage department and a team of nurses, in-service training and Human Resources, or a board committee and executive leaders. These all exemplify where a Gemba Board is most necessary - for clean, digestible data visibility for anyone involved, at any level. Everyone should play a part in its management to ensure measurables are accurate and only require a quick glance to be fully understood. 

What Should be Displayed on a Gemba Board?

Your Gemba Board needs to work with you and your team, in how you process information, make decisions, and analyze solutions when multiple problems may be coinciding. The best way to answer the question of what should be displayed on boards, is to decide on the areas that cannot afford much error, play a significant role in influencing revenue, and require everyone’s attention, not just a select few.

From there, a Gemba Board should leverage the benefits of color theory, visual perception tactics, and real-time information analysis that data visualization also utilizes. 

As for the specific columns and rows to include in your Gemba Board for tracking and keeping everyone accountable, here are some Gemba board examples of column title ideas:

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Delivery
  • Productivity
  • Cost
5 Tips for Starting a Gemba Board

Now that you know what’s valuable to include, it’s time to build your process and analysis. Looking to get started? Here at Bearex we have 5 tips that will get you going on your first Gemba Board layout. 

  • Tip #1 - Keep it Active
  • Tip #2 - Make it Engaging
  • Tip #3 - Encourage Collaboration
  • Tip #4 - Avoid Perfection, Aim for Fun
  • Tip #5 - Address and Act in the Moment

How to (Effectively) Automate a Gemba Board

Once your Gemba Board is established, you can take your Gemba Board one step further → automate it. To automate a Gemba Board means to make it dynamic, updated in real-time, and fully integrated into your data sources and information systems. This can be done by embedding your boards into a full EOS business intelligence solution or software that already houses, cleans, and connects to your most critical data. 

You can pair your Gemba Board with a dashboard that allows for live, at-a-glance data correlation alongside your boards’ top priority categories. You can assess the current status with that week’s goals, industry trends, or larger-scale objectives as data sources, spreadsheets, software, and reports run regularly.

Gemba Board Automation: Final Thoughts

While Gemba Board manufacturing is found as a common industry implementation, it’s important to remember just how flexible and adaptive this process is. By following the steps and tips we’ve laid out for you in this article, you too can find ways to bring boards into your workplace. 

When ready, see how automating a Gemba Board can provide you with that additional layer of shared knowledge as your data communicates with one another and translates that to your boards’ top factors being measured. When the Gemba Board becomes another integration into your automation process, the colors and structure you gave to it when stagnant can now be dynamic as well, shifting based on hitting certain thresholds or variable changes.  

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Thomas B. Jurasek, Bearex
Thomas B. Jurasek, Bearex

Tom is the CEO & Visionary at Bearex, a one-stop shop to unlock your data destiny. With his background as a CPA and CFO for-hire in the manufacturing industry, he and the Bearex team strive to help manufacturers advance at a pace equal to every day business utilizing the data they already have but in an easier way that aggregates all data and forces action, not paralysis by analysis. Tom began a data visualization segment in the CPA firm, where he was an owner, in 2014; he has since sold his stake in the firm and committed to the Bearex team to be a force for our manufacturing community to continue working smarter, not harder while bringing enterprise level tools that only public companies could previously afford to the small and mid-size manufacturers.

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