Using VSM to identify waste

Value stream mapping (VSM) is a technique to identify waste (non value adding activities). VSM was taken from the Toyota Production System (TPS) method called “Material and Information Flow Mapping” This was created to document the entire process (of a company or a department) on a single sheet of paper to encourage dialogue and understand the process better.

First, a current-state map is created to show how the value presently flows in the organization. Then, utilizing the principles of Lean, a future state is created to show how value should flow in an optimum manner. Kaizen activities / projects to overcome deficiencies in the current state that will allow the company to reach the future state, are identified for implementation on the current-state map. The future-state map illustrates the ideal state after the changes are implemented.

The future-state map represents how your processes should flow. When you use VSM, you can simultaneously analyze the fl ow of information and material to enable your organization to eliminate waste in both. By considering material flow and information flow concurrently, it is easy to identify and correct whether material flow is hampering information flow, or vice versa.

VSM captures the flow of a product from the point that raw material enters the process to the point where a final product is delivered to the customer. This includes all value-added and non-value-added activities that have been accepted as necessary to produce the product.

Benefits of VSM

VSM, used as a tool, provides several benefits to a process.

The first main benefit is enabling people to see the entire process rather than just a single step. The flow of the entire process becomes apparent. This also makes the sources of waste in the value stream evident. With a clear process flow and identified sources of waste, the decisions needed to improve the flow are also apparent.

Another major benefit to the VSM technique is that it utilizes a format that provides a common language for the manufacturing process, which ties together Lean concepts and techniques. VSM is also the only tool that currently provides a link between information fl ow and material flow. VSM is conducive in any environment that contains a process to meet a desired objective.