IDCON Reliability Tip: The Gemba of Reliability and Maintenance Management

Christer Idhammar, Founder

See the video here.

“Gemba” is a Japanese word meaning the actual place where value is created, or where actions are executed. It includes Gemba walks to the actual place to observe, learn and improve work.

During my six decades in the RMM field I have frequently experienced how the Gemba of RMM is ignored or not given enough of support. So, who are the Gemba people, or positions in RMM?

  1. Craftspeople and operators who execute the work.
  2. Frontline leaders who schedule, support and lead work.
  3. Planners who plan work.
  4. Coordinators who filter, prioritize and coordinate work between operations and maintenance.
  5. Reliability engineers who facilitate Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE) events, implementing the Preventive Maintenance program.

In a smaller maintenance organization, there might not be a person filling each of these roles, or functions, whereas, in bigger organizations each is typically filled. 

Managers above the Gemba people are supposed to set up the processes, document them, communicate them, and frequently follow up that people actually can follow the process they work in. Gemba walks can be a tool to learn and improve these processes.  

To successfully and sustainably implement an improvement initiative takes time, because it is 90% about people, culture and behaviors.

  • To develop the implementation plan should not take more than 5% of the total time. 
  • To communicate the plan telling the Why, What and How should take no less than 10% of the total time.
  • The remaining time is to coach and do On-The-Job-Training with the Reliability and Maintenance Management Gemba people .

Often, I see Happy Islands of people developing the improvement plan but spending little to no time communicating and coaching the actual implementation. Improvement initiatives falling into this category are bound to fail because the only result is a plan but no execution. I invite you to contact me ([email protected]) with any questions you have about leading Reliability and Maintenance Management.