Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping is a snapshot of the current state of a segment of the business at a 20,000 foot view. It helps to visually see where to tackle your next project improvements and challenges the paradigm of every member of your team. Part 4 of our Lean Manufacturing Series will help to address the basics of Value Stream Mapping so that you can fully understand how this powerful exercise can benefit your organization.

The purpose of the Current Value Stream Mapping is to understand the actual flow of your materials and information and, as a result, expose both value-added and non-value added activities. Material flow mapping shows the movement of all material from the raw material phase to the point of customer receipt. This involves inventory moves, production time and the movement of operators during the process. Information flow is the process that ensues between the customer’s initial call and the actual production launch. It outlines calls, faxes, emails and even foot traffic that has to occur before production begins. Both components are necessary when getting finished goods to your customers are made up of value-added activities (manufacturing the goods) and non-value added activities (running to get inventory before you begin the production run).

How do you get started with Value Stream Mapping? First, identify one value stream or product family to explore fully. Select one that will have the biggest impact to your organization once it has been optimized. Second, choose your team. The best choices are operators, supervisors, leads and engineers. Keep the same team on the value stream rather than breaking it up among multiple teams. Third, start walking the process…backwards. You will need a pencil (so that you can change things as you go along), paper, and a stopwatch. Start with shipping and ask them, “What had to happen for you to get these finished goods to ship?” Observe and time them as they complete the shipping step, then move to the previous step. Moving backwards is much more likely to identify non-value added activities because you are not repeating a process by rote. You will be truly examining it as it occurs.

Once the non-value added activities become apparent, you can develop a Future Value Stream that has eliminated all non-value added activities. Most non-value added activities fall into the following categories: Scrap rate, lead time, change-over and excessive inventory. Eradicating each of these four items will begin to show you how lean your manufacturing process can truly be.

The Future Stream will provide a goal but it will also reveal the gaps between your current and future value stream. These gaps will give you solid goals and an actionable plan. Create high level metrics so that you can be sure that your efforts are making an impact on the organization.

Value Stream Mapping helps you to create a vision of what is possible and challenges the current paradigms of your organization. The exercise will result in an actionable plan that is easy to communicate with all of the members of your team. To learn more about how to create a Value Stream for your organization, read our article: Lessons Learned from the Toyota Way.

To read parts 1-3 of this series, click the links below

Lean Manufacturing – Part 1

Lean Manufacturing – Part 2

Lean Manufacturing – Part 3