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88 SMT007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2020 Operational excellence managers have been leading organizations' transformation with Lean Six Sigma methods for the past two decades. An effective Lean Six Sigma method often used is the gemba walk. This method can improve your operations by having managers observe and engage with manufacturing work- ers to collaborate where work is done. This col- umn will look at how AI can redefine gemba to accelerate changes in your operations, includ- ing covering the fundamentals of Lean, how traditional gemba works and introducing ideas on how AI can enhance improvements. What Is Gemba? "The term 'gemba' comes from the Japa- nese word meaning 'the real place.' In Lean management, 'gemba' is the most important place for a team as it is the place where the real work happens," so you can observe and analyze it [1] . Various methods exist to implement gemba walks. There is, however, a common require- ment. Gemba walks are led by senior manag- ers by collaborating with production workers to optimize processes or to resolve operational challenges. There is a common pitfall that some orga- nizations fall into when implementing gemba walks. These companies schedule random walks by senior managers to observe the pro- cess and try to correct issues on the spot. This approach turns gemba into a reactive process where operators become apprehensive about engaging management for fear of making mis- takes when they are observed. Prepare a Purpose for Your Gemba Walks Gemba walks need to be for the specific purpose of achieving gains in operational improvements. Manag- ers should have a well- defined process for gemba walks before starting this process. Table 1 can help pro- vide a purpose when doing gemba walks. The Gemba Transformation of Manufacturing With AI Operational Excellence by Alfred Macha, AMT PARTNERS

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