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After more than three decades of helping manufacturing enterprises in South Central Pennsylvania boost their productivity and profitability, MANTEC has found value stream mapping to be a proven small business strategy. The purpose of this activity is to identify all of the information and activities associated with the manufacture of a product or product family — from receiving materials from your suppliers to final delivery of the product to your customers — in order to recognize and implement improvement opportunities.

What Is a Value Stream Map?

A value stream map is a visual method of depicting the current and future states of the manufacturing processes associated with a product or product family. Because value stream maps go beyond a mere sequential listing of physical tasks and include information flow as well as other factors, they’re less limited than traditional process maps.

By recognizing inefficiencies, hold-ups and other problems such as bottlenecks and lag time between tasks, value stream maps offer small and medium-sized businesses a way of implementing improvements by creatively transforming their manufacturing processes into leaner and more value-driven operations.

The Steps to Creating a Value Stream Map

Value stream mapping, or VSM, is largely a team process that involves stakeholders from each area and/or process to be mapped.

While it’s always a good idea to have someone with VSM experience lead the initiative, in reality, the combined input of the team — from factory floor personnel to supervisors and support staff — creates the value stream map by making numerous changes, corrections and suggestions over the course of the following four steps:

  • Step 1: Choose the product or product family to be mapped. Each company has its own reasons for selecting the product or product family that’s to be mapped. Sometimes a bestselling product is the best place to look for improvement opportunities. In other situations, a product family that’s been plagued with issues or a product that’s expected to have a good long-term outlook makes the most sense for analysis.
  • Step 2: Create your current state map. The team documents the entire path of material flow, including all primary and support processes that make up the chosen product’s manufacturing journey, from suppliers delivering materials to customers receiving the final product. Using symbols for each step, the current state value stream map includes not only the physical steps involved, but also the related lines of communication, such as how and when production control communicates with the factory floor.
  • Step 3: Create your future state map. With all the creativity and skills your team can muster, you create a future state value stream map in which limiting, deficient and ineffective steps are minimized and replaced by the visualization of leaner, more ideal steps. For example, you might want to create a unified cell approach instead of a fractured or siloed layout on your factory floor.
  • Step 4: Develop an improvement action plan. Though this process can occur over several months, it’s important to close the gap between your current state map and your future state map. That’s why implementing changes with performance measures such as key performance indicators — or KPIs — is the final and most crucial stage of VSM, since it’s during this stage that optimization is actually achieved.

To learn more about value stream mapping and how it can help your manufacturing processes, contact us today. MANTEC is dedicated to your ongoing business success.


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