Value stream mapping

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Value stream mapping is a method used to analyse the production system. It shows how the value is added to the product on subsequent workplaces in the manufacturing process, starting from process of raw material and ending with the finished product.

Value stream mapping is a tool that can be used with a sheet of paper and a pencil. It helps in seeing and understanding the flow of materials and information in the process, and value created during this flow.

Making a map of value stream is very simple: it is necessary to trace "the route of production" of the product from the client to the supplier, accurately graphically representing each of the activities involved in the flow of material and information.

The objective is to draw the "future state map", showing the desired form of the flow of values within analysed process. Constant repetition of these activities is the easiest and at the same time the best skills teaching method for managers and workers. It clearly establishes company vision and values, and most importantly identifies mail sources of waste (of time, material, resources).

Steps of value stream mapping

  1. Set the objectives. What results do you plan to achieve?
  2. Select the team. The team should consist of people from all departments through which the product flows, e.g. from raw material to sales.
  3. Select process to be mapped.
  4. Collect data and produce current state map. Do it while walking on production line with stop watch. To not rely on any written data or specifications. Reality differs from specs.
  5. Analyse current state. Challenge the current thinking, encourage the team to find waste.
  6. Create map of future state. Consult it, remove all weaknesses.
  7. Measure benefits. Check whether your objectives can be met.

Values stream map symbols

Value Stream Mapping symbols are known as the "language of lean". They allow to depict and improve the flow in the process.

List of value stream map symbols

Value stream mapping software

The simple chart can be drawn using Microsoft Office Visio 2010 or newer. In section Business a value stream mapping template with lean symbols was attached.

Examples of Value stream mapping

  1. Toy Manufacturing: Value stream mapping can be used to analyze the entire process of toy manufacturing. It starts with the procuring of raw materials, followed by the different stages of production, such as molding, painting, and assembling. Each stage is mapped to show how value is added to the product.
  2. Construction: Value stream mapping can be used to analyze the entire building process, from planning and design to construction and completion. The mapping includes the stages of excavation, foundation, framing, roofing, plumbing, and electrical work. Each stage is mapped to show how value is added to the final building.
  3. Food Production: Value stream mapping can be used to analyze the entire process of food production. It starts with the procurement of ingredients, followed by the stages of processing, packaging, and distribution. Each stage is mapped to show how value is added to the product.

Advantages of Value stream mapping

Value Stream Mapping is a useful tool to analyse production systems and visualize how value is added to the product progressively. It provides various advantages including:

  • Improved efficiency: Value stream mapping helps to identify and eliminate waste in the production process, thus improving efficiency and reducing costs.
  • Improved visibility: By visually mapping out the entire production process, it provides improved visibility of the entire operation and helps to identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement.
  • Reduced lead time: Value stream mapping helps to identify and eliminate non-value adding activities, which can help to reduce lead time and improve delivery times.
  • Improved collaboration: By providing a visual representation of the production process, it encourages collaboration between different departments and allows for better communication between teams.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: By increasing efficiency and reducing lead times, value stream mapping can help to improve customer satisfaction.

Limitations of Value stream mapping

Value stream mapping is a useful tool for analyzing production systems, however, it does have some limitations that should be taken into consideration:

  • It does not take into account the production environment as a whole, but only looks at individual processes.
  • It can be time consuming and expensive to implement, due to the need for data collection and analysis.
  • It may not be suitable for all types of production systems, and may not be the most effective way to analyze them.
  • It may not take into account all the factors that influence production, such as human resources, technology, and the economy.
  • It may not be able to accurately predict future production needs.
  • It may be difficult to interpret the results and draw meaningful conclusions.

Other approaches related to Value stream mapping

Value stream mapping is a popular technique used to analyse and improve the production system. Other approaches related to value stream mapping include:

  • Kaizen: A Japanese term meaning "continuous improvement". It is a strategy used to identify and eliminate waste in a production system and improve the process.
  • Kanban: A scheduling system used to control and manage the production process, which helps to regulate the flow of materials and orders in the production system.
  • Six Sigma: A process improvement methodology which uses data, statistical analysis, and project management techniques to improve the quality of products and services.
  • Lean Manufacturing: A production system which uses tools and techniques to reduce waste and increase efficiency in the production system.

In summary, value stream mapping is an important tool used to analyse and improve the production system, and there are several other approaches which are related to it, such as Kaizen, Kanban, Six Sigma, and Lean Manufacturing.

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Kanban methodologyFlow analysisManagement by the numbersActivity chartSpaghetti diagramValue management7 quality toolsShewhart cycleLean manufacturing


Author: Slawomir Wawak