Why Should You Map Your Value Stream?
For someone who walks the factory floor each day, the concept of a value stream might be the most obvious thing in the world. But understanding the value stream goes beyond knowing where production starts and ends or what happens at different stations, checkpoints, and junctions along the way.
To truly understand the value stream — and the “value” it represents — companies must take the time to map it out comprehensively, including everything that contributes to it.
Looking closer at the value stream
In manufacturing, the value stream is a breakdown of all the steps and actions in a product’s manufacturing journey, starting with the collection of raw materials through the final delivery of the product. It encompasses waiting time and cycle time, product movement, production flow, transportation time, and every other factor involved in getting a product from the factory floor to its final destination.
Value stream mapping refers to a process — one that can be as simple as taking pencil to paper — that allows manufacturing teams to visualize the steps in a product’s journey to the consumer.
Why take the time to create a value stream map?
When value stream mapping is done right, it provides critical information at a glance to create a leaner manufacturing environment. A good value stream map helps manufacturing teams identify and eliminate wasteful activities. It provides a clear view of work processes across the factory floor so managers can determine what adds value and what doesn’t.
Value stream mapping also adds value for the customer. A comprehensive value stream map includes data that can be used to improve end-product quality. The process goes well beyond mapping the current state of work in an organization; it also allows teams to visualize an ideal state of operations so every member of an organization has tangible goals to work toward.
How much visibility does your value stream offer?
Value stream mapping offers several distinct applications. Aside from optimizing production and saving time and costs, an understanding of your organization’s value stream improves all aspects of a business, including personnel-centric processes. The same holds true for technologies, like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Some manufacturers are successfully adopting IIoT technologies, creating a more dynamic value stream. While we’re seeing only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to integrating IIoT in the value stream, this integration has potential to capture moments from the past to identify cause-and-effect connections. With sensor-based monitoring systems, for example, the value stream becomes more dynamic, providing continuous monitoring that enables better decision making through real-time information.
With a flexible value stream, organizations can create long-term solutions that are both sustainable and profitable. Creating this flexibility means understanding the value stream — and to understand it, you first need to map it.