Value Stream Mapping is a guide to a specific part of the operations, information, and procedures required for converting raw material into a product. The flowchart illustrates, analyzes, and improves a service or product using different symbols. As a part of lean methodology, it serves the primary application of waste elimination. Based on the customer's point of view, only the product or service's value holds significance, irrespective of efforts and cost of manufacturing. So, items in the flowchart are categorized as adding or subtracting value. The Value Stream Mapping begins with the current state map, which is further edited to eliminate waste by reviewing the complete information present. 

History of Value Stream Mapping (VSM)?

The concept has been introduced previously. It has been known as material and information flow mapping and process mapping for decades. By the 1990s, it rose to fame for usage in lean manufacturing and gained its present name. It finds use in both Six Sigma Methodologies and Lean manufacturing. Lean methodology removes non-value-added activities, while six sigma removes processes having the possibility of errors. The application depends on the situation; hence, a combination approach is preferable. 

Benefits of Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

The detailed view of the information flow provides easy insight into the value consumption. As the customer cares only for the value, the same can be used as the basis to define the perfect product or service. Thus, VSM facilitates eliminating waste, increasing the competitive value of products leading to the success of projects and organizations. Furthermore, with both source and cause of waste being clearly understood through the process, regular improvements, comparison with future state VSM and future predictions can contribute to maximum efficiency. A few processes that can be monitored include time consumption at different procedures, problems in raw material and storage, and quality compromise. 

Why Do We Use Value Stream Mapping?

The manufacturing or development of service is a complicated process requiring numerous steps. Documenting the procedure in theoretical format will add to the issues rather than solving them. Instead, a diagrammatic view with different symbols provided by VSM is easy to understand and catch the problem source. The symbols are divided into material, process, information, and general.

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Analyze the Value Stream

With the complete flow or value stream in front, the analysis is performed to add or subtract the value from the final product. The separate actions provide detailed information or their significance in the process, which is used as a tool for communication. The analysis is followed by creating current, future, and ideal maps. Finally, the pointed-out recommendations and comparison of all the maps help in concluding, thus executing the plan with efficacy. 

How is VSM used in Different Fields?

Associated mainly with manufacturing purposes, Value Stream Mapping is applicable in multiple fields to eliminate waste. Here is a walkthrough of how:

In Manufacturing

VSM has been used in manufacturing since the beginning. The flowchart depicting the conversion process into a product provides detailed insight. In addition, waste elimination and removal of non-value services can be easily done through the provided data. 

Supply Chain and Logistics

VSM can indicate the time taking or costly processes to remove or find alternatives, thus reducing waste. 

Software Engineering/Development

A flowchart can be indicated here, depicting the journey of the idea to implementation. The process is similar to manufacturing and can be easily implied to understand loopholes and reworks along with wrong steps. 

Service Industries

The VSM can be used to find flaws in business flow, thus increasing the efficiency of customer delivery. 

Healthcare

With multiple steps in treatment by the hospital's end, VSM efficiently eliminates unnecessary requirements, benefiting the patients and the hospital.

Office and Administrative

VSM can reduce the time of an action or completion of any request by speeding up the process.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) in Transactional Environments

Though VSM is challenging in transactional environments due to less tangibility of the Value Stream, fixing only the percentage will provide a massive improvement to the value stream. 

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Value Stream Mapping (VSM) Terminology

We defined a few terms used in VSM.

Time (C/T)

It refers to the cycle time between two completed units. In other words, it is the frequency or average time of production. 

Setup Time (S/T)

Amount of time required for setting up essentials to begin the process.

Uptime (%)

Amount of time requiring operation or working. It can indicate official office hours or system time in IT departments or organizations.

Lead time

Time required for a feature request to reach from idea to delivery.

TAKT Time

Time required for production but calculated based on the consumer's requirement.

Kaizen Burst

The created flowchart can identify the problem. For the solving part, Kaizen Blitz is responsible. It is the team's contribution toward solving a specific problem and may be required for up to a week. For instance, several technical issues require complex work and planning to find an alternative. 

Four Elements of a Value Stream Map (VSM)

VSM can be categorized into four components, as follows:

Product Flow

It indicates various stages of material that it has to pass through to convert into a product.

Information flow

Governing product flow, it indicates the management of the process. 

Customer(s)

As they decide the product's value, their demand frequency and requirements will be added to VSM. The frequency is required for calculating Takt time.

Supplier(s)

Add only the important supplier and the geographical operation for better time estimation. 

10 Easy Steps to Complete a Value Stream Map (VSM)

To find the most appropriate step for improvement, the Value Stream Map should be created utilizing mentioned steps -

Step 1 – Understand the Value

VSMs are utilized with an emphasis on value-added activities. So, value-adding activities are included due to the customer, required in the product formation procedure, or correctly done the first time. Activities for reasons other than the mentioned ones are "waste" activities. 

Step 2 – What is our Focus?

VSM tracks one service, part, or transaction in a process rather than being a complete process flowchart. The focus can be determined using tools like Product Family Matrix while considering consumer return rates, defect rates, largest dollar volume, and greater proportion units for the product. 

Step 3 – Go to Gemba (Walk the Process)

VSM should be created with a complete understanding of the process or at the place of activity. Avoid using documents for VSM creation. Opt for Gemba Walks.  

Step 4 – Work Backwards

Start from the product and reach the raw material to track the desired improvement. 

Step 5 – Define the Basic Value Stream

Outline the process for defining the basic value stream to facilitate analysis. 

Step 6 – Fill in Queue Times

Step to write the time required for each process. For instance, divide the process cycle time into non-value added and value-added time based on criteria discussed in step 1.

Step 7 – Fill in Process Data

Write more details regarding the important process data. For example, it can be about first pass yield, shifts, changeover time, Takt time, process cycle time, and other significant points. 

Step 8 – Include Smiley Faces 

Smiley faces can be used in VSM to indicate the number of laborers involved in each process, which will be an additional point for analysis and detection problems. 

Step 9 – Include the Value-Added Percentage (%VA)

Find the percentage of value-added activities by adding the time of steps of concern and dividing by the total manufacturing time. Then, multiply the answer by 100 to get the desired percentage. 

Step 10 – Interpret the Value Stream Map (VSM)

Interpretation is the reason for all the hard work performed till now. It can be in terms of poor uptimes, quality/rework, constraints, excess setup times, and long process cycle times.

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Conclusion

VSM can be designed to provide an overview of the required steps, thus satisfying involved parties like contributors. Moreover, with application in numerous fields, it is a great approach to recognize non-value-added services, thus eliminating them and, eventually, getting an improvement in the procedure. 

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