Value Stream Mapping and Lean Manufacturing – You Can’t Have One Without the Other

Value stream mapping is a ‘lean manufacturing’ system utilized to understand the flow of information and products to the customer. The system originated in the Toyota factory where it was termed as ‘material and information flow mapping’. This terminology is used in the process/processes that need improvement.

This is a helpful method that can be used in a ‘lean’ scenario to improve upon the ‘lead time’. This system is useful not only in the manufacturing process but also in logistics, service related industries, health care and product development. It is a visualization tool oriented to the TPS. It helps in understanding and streamlining work processes using the various ‘tools’ and ‘techniques’ of ‘lean management’. The goal of Visual Stream Mapping is to identify and demonstrate waste in the system, and eliminate the same. This system is taken as a starting point for the manufacturers, production engineers, suppliers, schedulers, associates and even customers to identify and eliminate waste in any form. Thus, it can be seen that the visual mapping stream is not only a communication tool but also a strategic planning tool and a change management tool.

In order to achieve this end, the visual stream mapping system maps the flow of materials from the time they enter the factory premises, through the production line and right up to the time they arrive at the dock for shipment as finished products. Mapping out the various activities in the manufacturing process (down times, cycle times, in-process inventory, and material moves etc.) helps visualize the current state of the process activities, and guides that state to a future desired state. The procedure generally includes the ‘physical’ mapping of the current state while also focusing on the ‘future’ state. This, at a later stage, would serve as the stepping stone for future ‘lean’ management strategies.

In the Toyota Production System (TPS) seven wastes were identified. These wastes were commonly accepted. They are:-

Inappropriate processing

Transport(inordinate delay)

Unnecessary inventory(excess stock)

Overproduction(faster than necessary pace)

Defects(correction of mistakes)

Unnecessary motion

Inappropriate processing

Having identified the seven inherent wastes, the seven Value Stream Mapping tools are as under:-

Process activity mapping

Supply chain response

Production variety funnel

Physical structure mapping

Decision point analysis

Demand amplification mapping

Quality filter mapping

There are four steps to Value Stream Mapping:-

a) Define and pick the product and, or the product family.

b) Create the current state Value Stream Mapping.

c) Create the Future state Value Stream Mapping.

d) Develop an action plan to make the FSVSM and the CSVSM.

In today’s environment, eVSM software is available to visualize the value stream. The latest version of eVSM software includes a Quick eVSM template which improves mapping capability by over software has been designed to complement the lean implementation methodologies. Value Stream Mapping is considered one of the major activities in the journey towards ‘Lean’. It is seen to be effective in the management of the flow of products and services involved in providing value to the customer.