Friday, September 4, 2015

Improving Processes through Value Stream Mapping

Improving Processes through Value Stream Mapping
If you Google the phrase “Value Stream Mapping,” a very elaborate (and wordy) definition pops up on the screen. In order to understand the concept, we must simplify the definition. Value Stream Mapping looks at how things are currently executed in order to improve processes in the future. The actual mapping portion comes into play because a written ‘map’ is used to sequentially depict steps required to design, produce and provide a good or service. The map includes information related to labor and materials – not just production.

A Powerful Lean Tool
Value Stream Mapping has roots in lean management methodology. Lean principles increase production speed and identify waste. Eight areas of waste exist, but most waste is found when dealing with time, talent and production.

Value Stream Mapping is an important tool because it helps create lasting organizational change. Improvement events create value at one point in the process, but mapping connects all improvement activities. Mapping analysis depicts waste so an elimination plan can be created. A step not working towards adding value to the quality, price or customer need should be eliminated. After all, the customer IS buying value.

Visualization of Processes
Value Stream Mapping is conveyed through the use of symbols to visually depict the manufacturing process. These special symbols help identify waste in the manufacturing process. The symbols also vary by industry, but all serve the same purpose: To shows how “items” flow through the value stream. In manufacturing, labor and materials are the items. In design and development, designs are the items. Value Stream Mapping looks at all aspects of manufacturing – not just the final outcome.

The Six Basic Steps
1.     Identify the value streams. Group products sharing the same processes. These groupings are the value streams.
2.     Map the current state of affairs and how they are actually working. Do not look to the future during this step. Be honest with yourself.
3.     Measure the value stream by looking at such things as inventory, cycle time, changeover time, first pass yield and reliability. 
4.     Identify opportunities for improvement.
5.     Map the future state of how things will look after continuous improvement is implemented.
6.     Plan implementation and prioritize the projects that will move your organization from the current state to the future state.

Value Stream Mapping can be an effective tool in optimizing your manufacturing processes and business. Clearly, the process identifies opportunities for waste elimination and how to produce a quality, cost-effective product for your customers. For more information about MMTC’s Lean services or to speak with an MMTC Lean Expert, click here or contact us at 888.414.6682.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

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