Value Streams are all the actions, (value added and non-value added), currently required to bring a product or a service through the operation flows from the input, raw material, into the arms of the customer, finished goods or services.
Transfer these actions to a sheet of paper and you have a value stream map, a graphical representation of the operation. This is used to visualise the operation and get everyone in the company talking the same operations language.
In these days of technology, don’t be tempted to waste your time learning a software package to get a nice, neat and perfect electronic version. Walk the value stream from the customer contact to the supplier contact. When you understand the number of process steps you can start drawing the map on an A3 size sheet of paper with a pencil and ruler. This is a living document and should be updated as necessary and displayed in a relevant place.
Walk through process of the value stream and collect as much data as you can from the process. Do not rely on hearsay, or past reports, capture the process as it is today. Data that you want to capture are cycle times, change over times, up times, defect rates, number of operators and anything pertinent to the process. You also need to capture what happens between processes, how much work in process is there, how much waiting time and anything that is needed to get an understanding of what happens in the value stream. Connect the process steps with connectors, push arrows, pull connectors or supermarkets.
The last part of the material flow is to draw in the delivery to the customer and the delivery of raw material to the company. Use a pictogram of the delivery method, a truck, train or plane etc. How often you get deliveries and how often you deliver.
Now that the material flows have been mapped you can start on the information flows. The material flows are anticlockwise from the top right of the map; the information flows are. Draw in the communication from the customer to the company, the company to the supplier and the company to the process for planning. Include how often the customers schedule is communicated; how often you communicate with your suppliers and how often you communicate with the processes, i.e. daily schedule.
The last step in drawing the map is to complete a timeline at the bottom. Add up the time for all of the process steps and waiting time between the processes to find the total time taken to travel through value stream, this is the flow time. Then add up all of the added value times, that is, process steps where you are changing the form, function or fit of the operation or service.
Congratulations, you have drawn a current value stream map, for one of your value streams. Like all maps it is used to guide you on a journey. Compare the total time or flow time with the value added time or touch time. If the times are different and mostly they are vastly different, this is the starting point for the improvement journey. Similarly compare the total number of process steps, with value adding steps. Only the value adding steps or times are paid for by the customer, the company pays for the rest, reducing profits!
Develop an improvement plan to reduce waste through the value stream. Use the lean tools 5S, 7 wastes, visual management / visual control and standardised work. Form kaizen teams to address the identified problems and create flow in the value stream.
This is a brief of how to create and use current value stream maps. If you need more information, leave a comment or send me a message and we can discuss you needs.