Lean Manufacturing Tool: Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is a lean management strategy that analyzes the series of events required to transform a raw material into a deliverable product for the consumer. You might ask, “why do we need such a management strategy?”

This is done to identify wastes in the current manufacturing process and the insight is used to design a new approach that reduces waste. Waste, in this case, doesn’t only apply to unwanted resources. According to Daniel T. Jones, there are seven common types of waste.

Types of Waste in Value Stream Mapping

  1. Overproduction- This is also referred to as “faster-than-necessary-pace” and it is a sure way to damage the production flow, the quality of the product, and the efficiency in the organization.
  2. Waiting- Goods that are neither being processed nor being transported are also sources of waste resulting in wait time.
  3. Transportation/Conveyance- As the goods are being moved around, double-handling or excessive movement is also bound to occur.
  4. Complicated Processing- When a recondite solution replaces a simple procedure in production, it is referred to as inappropriate processing and it leads to unsafe production.
  5. Excess Stock- This is when the inventory is surplus, causing greater lead times. It also complicates the process of identifying problems with the stock, and in some cases, increased cost of storage.
  6. Ergonomic Waste- Yes! When employees take time to pick up objects, bend, stretch, or handle objects (movements that are unnecessary), it is a form of waste.
  7. Correcting Mistakes- As expected, the extra resource (cost, time, and effort) required to correct a defect is also a waste.

Difference Between Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping of Six Sigma?

If you already have a six sigma process in use at your organization, you might not see the need to consider value stream mapping. But there are significant differences between the two. Four ways in which they differ are;

  1. VSM gathers and displays a wider range of information when compared to the typical process map.
  2. The level of VSM is usually 5 to 10 boxes higher than that of a typical process map.
  3. VSM covers a broader spectrum of the production process; from the receiving of the raw materials to the delivery of the produced good.
  4. VSM is essential when it is imperative to identify where to focus future projects and/or improvement activities.

Getting Started With VSM- How Do You Use Value Stream Mapping?

This is the million-dollar question on every manager’s lips. Do you have to wait until you’re a behemoth organization like Toyota before you consider utilizing value stream mapping? The answer is a simple no. You need to draw the map but first it’s important to know all your processes, workflows, product times, wastes… The more information you have, the easier it is for you to draw it. So if we would have to guess, we would say that having a solution that gives you full insight and visibility on your shop floor would be the first thing to do.


The 7 Steps to Value Stream Mapping- The Journey to a Waste-Free Organization

You’ve finally decided to eliminate waste, here’s how you go about it.

1.   Clearly Define the Start and End Point

No one leaves their house on a journey without having a destination in mind. Similarly, it is important to have a well-defined end point at the beginning. This will give you an overview of the whole process (the bigger picture) and will help you ensure oneness of purpose.

In doing this, know that the value stream map begins from the moment you receive the materials and it ends when you deliver the finished product to the consumer. This simplifies the process greatly, doesn’t it?

2.   Highlight the Process Involved

Now that you have a start point and an end point, determine the steps you need to take to get to the end from the beginning. For example, a company concerned with automobile production will have steps like fabrication, assembly, testing, etc.

3.   Indicate the Flow of Information

This is one advantage VSM has over other conventional methods of management. You can include specific information on each process and go into detail. This will, without a doubt, cause coherence and unity in the organization.

4.   Gather Relevant Data

From the 3 steps highlighted above, you can now go deeper into individual processes. This is when you see the inventory items for each process, the cycle time, how long it takes to transfer, how many people are needed, etc.

5.   Improve the Map with Data and Timelines

The data collected above can now be used to improve the map. There should be data blocks that show the lead time required to manufacture and deliver a product. This can also be compared to the actual time it takes the organization.

6.   Note the different Sources and Types Wastes

You just learned about waste in this article, right? Wonderful! Now put the knowledge to good use. Identify how you’re losing money and make necessary changes.

7.   Complete Your Final Value Steam Map

Constant iteration, rinsing, and repeating the processes above is the journey to perfection. The goal is not to have a perfect VSM from the start, however, you will begin to notice an improvement in your business as you put this map to work.


Just like any exciting strategy, it is only effective when it is done properly. If you would like to discuss how you we can help you implementing a value stream map that works (and you should!), do not hesitate to contact us here.