Phil Coy @leaniac
Managing Director of Strategic Services
Value stream mapping has proven to be a very useful tool to visualize the flow of value creation and identify waste. Many hours are spent walking the floor to interview workers in each process and assemble all of the information to create the value stream map and identify opportunities to reduce waste. In many organizations, however, that’s where the usefulness of the map ends. In a couple of months, the sticky notes on the wall need to be retaped and databoxes become out of date as business volumes change and processes improve. Yes, the map has served a purpose to surface waste and identify opportunities to improve. But when it’s time to revisit, we have to start over from scratch. Or do we?

This is the first of a new series on value stream mapping and the use of technology that sets an entirely new paradigm for value stream mapping. We’ll introduce the overall concept in this post and then expand on it subsequently.

A value stream map graphically depicts the flow of materials through processes. From a manufacturing perspective, the bill of material for an end product defines the components needed to produce the product. Multiple levels of bills of material are used to support the complexity of today’s products. This is normally managed with ERP or PLM systems but the data is certainly needed for any manufacturing or lean initiative. For manufacturing with ERP systems, every end product and every subassembly has a routing that defines the series of operation steps needed to build that item. The routing in ERP then is an expression of the flow of materials through processes – which is the same as depicted as a value stream map.

Using Areteium, our lean transformation software toolkit, imported bills of materials and routings are used to create and graphically depict a value stream map. These use the combination of the levels of the bills of material and the routings to show subassembly or feeder areas flowing into final assembly operations. Here’s a graphical snippet of a complex map for a specialty steel producer:

As you can see there’s a lot going on with different materials taking different paths. This would be very difficult, bordering on impossible, to do with manual mapping. Which leads us to the following benefits:

  • Value stream maps can be created quickly for products and operations of any complexity
  • Value stream maps can be updated dynamically based on changes to bills or routings so they remain current to the business
  • Value stream maps are comprehensive with every product represented, not just a sample one or two
  • The lean repository of bills of material and routing data can be updated to dynamically recalculate takt time, EPEI and capacity

We’ll explore each of these benefits in later posts

If you want to check this out for yourself, we are offering a Free 30-Day Trial of the software so you can see for yourself.

Adam Jenkins

Author Adam Jenkins

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