Map Your Value Stream: Cut out Waste Visually

Value Stream Mapping is a visual imaging technique developed by the Toyota version of Lean Manufacturing. It is a paper and pencil tool that helps to visualize and figure out the flow of materials and information as a product or service courses through the value stream. It helps to understand and improve work processes using the tools and techniques of Lean Manufacturing – the ultimate philosophy of efficiency. When effectively implemented, lean techniques cut down the time between customer order and factory consignment by removing waste.

Value Stream Mapping gives you the tools to spot the waste in your business and to streamline processes to get rid of waste. It is your source for solutions to eliminate that waste. Through value stream mapping a company reduces lead time, improves product quality and space utilization, reduces rework and scrap and inventory levels, cuts down indirect labor costs.

Value Stream Mapping is a method of visually mapping the flow of materials and information from the time products come in the back door as raw material, through all manufacturing process steps, and off the loading dock as finished products. This is the Value Stream.

Mapping is a critical initial step in the lean philosophy. Mapping out the activities in your production process with cycle times, down times, in-process inventory, material moves, information flow paths, will help you visualize the current state of the process activities and guide you towards the future desired state.

The process includes physically mapping your “current state” while also focusing on where you want to be, or your “future state” map, which can serve as the foundation for other Lean improvement strategies. Value stream mapping can serve as a starting point to help management, engineers, production associates, schedulers, suppliers, and customers spot waste and recognize its causes.

The goal is to identify and eliminate waste in the process. Waste being any activity that does not add value to the final product.

A value stream map is also called an end-to-end system map because it takes into account not only the activity of the product, but the management and information systems that support the basic process. This lets you gain insight into the decision making flow in addition to the process flow.

Value stream mapping differs from the process mapping. It collects and shows a wider spectrum of information than a typical process map. It is at a higher level than many process maps and is used for a broader level, i.e. from receiving of raw material to delivery of finished goods.

With Value Stream Mapping, you essentially run a fine tooth comb in your business processes from start to finish and draw a visual image of every process involved in the material and information flows. It also involves drawing a future state map to show how things should work for your best competitive gain.

The benefits of Value Stream Mapping are numerous. It helps visualize the production process at the plant level not just the single process level. It helps you see more than waste it helps you see the sources of waste in your value stream.

It shows the relation between the information flow and the material flow. It makes decisions about the flow apparent, so you can discuss them. It forms the basis of an implementation plan. It ties together lean concepts and techniques to enable improvements that result in profit.

Value Stream Mapping can be a communication tool, a business planning tool, and a tool to manage your change process. The first step is drawing the current state, which is done by collecting information on the shop floor. This provides the information needed to map a future state. The final step is to prepare and begin to use an implementation plan that describes, on one page, how you plan to achieve the future state.

Value Stream Mapping provides a simple, yet thorough methodology that relies on relevant data analysis and display. It associates reporting requirements, metrics, people, and lean tools to sustain improvement and promote process learning. It gives managers and employees a common language to talk.

Value stream mapping helps visualize more than just the single-process level; it helps see more than waste it helps see the sources of waste in the value stream. It provides a familiar language for talking about manufacturing processes. It helps make decisions and discussions about the flow apparent. It ties together lean concepts and techniques helps you avoid “cherry picking”. It forms the format of an implementation plan. It shows the connection between the information flow and the material flow. It is much more useful than an ordinary process map.

Peter Peterka is President of Lean Six Sigma US. For additional information on Six Sigma Green Belt or other Six Sigma Black Belt programs contact Peter Peterka.

Author: Peter Peterka Google

Published 09/3/2008 offers both Live Virtual classes as well as Online Self-Paced training. Most option includes access to the same great Master Black Belt instructors that teach our World Class in-person sessions. Sign-up today!

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