Comparing In-Person vs Virtual Gemba Walks

January 15, 2023

Avatour

A Gemba Walk is a Lean Management practice that aims to improve productivity of operations through observing and learning the work where it happens.

A Gemba Walk is a Lean Management practice that aims to improve productivity of operations through observing and learning the work where it happens. However, as a result of the travel restrictions during Covid, major companies across industries were forced to adopt Virtual Gemba Walks to maintain visibility of their sites and facilities.

Many have continued the practice of Virtual Gemba Walks beyond the pandemic due to its benefits over visiting sites in person. In this article, we’ll compare the Pros and Cons of:

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages and it’s important to understand the differences in order to choose the best approach for you and your team.

We’ll conclude by taking a look at how emerging technologies are improving the overall virtual experience and pushing the limits of remote work, forcing us to challenge the very idea of visiting sites in person.

In-Person Gemba Walk

The practice of walking the Gemba was first implemented by Taiichi Ohno, the founder of the Toyota Production System in the 1950s. He recognized the importance of observing the work where it happens in order to make informed decisions for continuous improvement.

Pros

Cons

An image of a Remote Gemba Walk conducted using standard video conferencing

Virtual Gemba Walk

First adopted out of necessity, Virtual Gemba Walks have evolved into a practice carried on beyond Covid.

Virtual site visits are generally conducted using standard video conferencing tools, allowing participants to observe processes from a distance. This method is significantly more convenient than in-person visits, and is ideal for businesses needing to frequently observe numerous locations or when travel is difficult.

Pros

Cons

Although convenient, standard video conferencing tools have a number of limitations when it comes to meetings that require the context of a physical location.

Emerging technologies used for a Remote Gemba Walk

Conclusion

Today, emerging technologies have significantly improved the Virtual Gemba Walk experience by addressing the limitations of standard video conferencing directly.

Using technology like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and 360° video, companies are now able to conduct effective walkthroughs virtually, at a fraction of the cost and time. Read more about remote collaboration tools and how they compare.

The reality is, Virtual Gemba Walks will continue to become more common in the near future, especially to supplement in-person visits. The important question is, what technology is right for you?

How Avatour is Changing the Game for Lean Manufacturing Leaders

Avatour brings teams together at the Gemba, virtually.

The Avatour platform delivers a shared feeling of presence in a physical location using real-time 360° video capture.

The biggest challenge in continuous improvement is to maintain visibility of operations even when you’re not on site. Whether you manage one location or 100, Avatour provides in-person visibility without the hassle of travel so you can focus on what’s important: the Gemba.

Interested in trying out Avatour? Schedule a demo or contact us directly with any questions you may have.

Click to learn more about the Avatour platform.