by Chad Burdick – Director of Manufacturing Operations

2014_11_25 Coghlin Companies_112952There’s an old cliché that says a picture is worth a thousand words. There’s another that says seeing is believing. The meaning behind both of these common adages boils down to this; more accurate and relevant information can be gleaned from direct observation than can be done when using other, indirect methods.

Gemba” is a word of Japanese origin meaning “at the site” or “the place” and, when used in the context of LEAN manufacturing principles, its specific definition is “to go to where the work is being performed.” Rather than sit in conference rooms attempting to analyze – and fix – things remotely, Cogmedix’ managers “go to Gemba” to directly observe tasks being performed, thereby gaining a more in-depth understanding of the work at hand.

Observing work “in Gemba” allows safety issues to be brought to light, something made much more difficult from the isolation of a conference room. “Going to Gemba” can also quickly highlight inefficient activities, many of which may never have been brought to light if not observed directly. “Going to Gemba” allows a manager to directly interact with Cogmedix associates actually performing the work, empowering the manager to gain insight by asking questions about the workflow, learning first-hand about its advantages as well as its challenges.

As a medical device contract manufacturing company, “going to Gemba” is a key ingredient of our compliance initiative. Through direct observation of work in progress, Cogmedix managers better ensure full compliance as well as maximize quality control and efficiency.

This process has proven so successful that our management staff conducts “Gemba Meetings” every single morning, preparing the team for the workday ahead.

Who knew that a manager making a brief visit to the production floor could make such a huge difference in time to market?

We did!