A very useful bit of Japanese jargon borrowed by the enthusiasts of Lean Management is “go to the Gemba.” “Gemba” means the place where value is created in a business or organization–the surgical suite or diagnostic imaging center in a hospital, the machine shop or assembly line in a manufacturing company, the front desk in a hotel. To improve performance, you start with understanding how value is created and where there is waste in the operation (the activities and use of resources that a customer will not be happy to pay for.)
Energy use is not the primary purpose of any organization–you use energy to accomplish some other purpose. Many sophisticated organizations apply Lean principles or their equivalent to reduce waste and increase value delivered to their customers. For these organizations, energy management will be a natural part of everyone’s job to increase value.
Even in Lean organizations, energy may be wasted in ways that are hard to see–because, after all, energy use is not the main point of adding value to the customer.
How can you learn to see energy waste? It helps to have examples and to see what’s going on–go to the workplace and look for energy waste.
As you know if you’re using Energy Stewards® or have been following our blog, we are big proponents of learning from each other. Shared experiences also can foster friendly competition and inspiration to use energy more efficiently.
So how does this all fit with Extreme Sports and going to the Gemba?
Extreme sports enthusiasts like to show their friends the crazy things they do. One tool they use is a rugged video camera from GoPro. The GoPro camera developers announced a new development at last week’s Consumer Products show. In a month or two, you can hook up the tiny rugged GoPro camera to a small, wearable box that will access a Wi-Fi network. If there is no Wi-Fi network, you can access the web with a smartphone and stream your video. The whole system is on the order of $500 or $600.
With a rugged portable video camera, you can go all kinds of places (the Gemba, for example) and document energy saving opportunities or show a distant expert your situation. You can then share your lessons–either live stream or captured for later study and display if you’re in a mechanical room with no internet access (the latest camera comes with a 32 GB memory card that is really small).
We think on the spot video is now within reach of many learning groups and engineers.
We look forward to seeing your videos soon!