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Basic No. 5: Value Stream Mapping
By Bill Gaw

Back-to-Basics manufacturing is the removal of waste, by improving production time, which results in improved quality and the reduction of costs. Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is the visual tool used to identify and eliminate waste, which makes VSM an incredibly important tool to use in the success of lean manufacturing.

Specifically, Value Stream Mapping allows you to see the flow of the value stream, and where the wastes are within the flow. For instance, when a value stream map is created, the first step is to draw out the value adding steps in the middle of the paper, what the delays are, and all information required in order to deliver the product or service. There are also different tools used on the map that are hand drawn, providing an easier avenue for developing and making corrections.

Plus drawing out the map gives you the opportunity to view and understand how the materials and information flows in the value stream in order to discuss the required changes. This information will guide you for establishing the future state map with prioritized activities in order to achieve the future state vision.

Another critical piece in the value stream map is all the non-value adding steps, which are the operations of the value stream, such as a person's workstation. The non-value adding steps are also classified as the preparatory or cleaning up phase. Once these have been identified, lines are drawn to each value adding step. A vertical line is drawn from the non-value adding steps to the value adding steps, which tells a story about the person performing the work, or the workstation. A horizontal line is drawn is drawn between each of the value adding steps indicating the product being created.

In essence, Value Stream Mapping is used to identify the opportunities for reducing waste and improving quality. VSM can also be used for other functions, not just manufacturing, such as logistics, the supply chain, other departments within an organization, as well as other industries. It is important to clearly outline the current state, with all pieces that affect all phases of the process. Once this is done, then the brainstorming of how to eliminate the waste and improve the process can be conducted. The final step is to create a future state vision map of how the process will operate, and implement the changes.

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