Value Stream Mapping 

How To Do It; What To Do With It 


What Is A Value Stream?

A Value Stream is “the set of all the specific actions required to bring a specific product through the three critical management tasks of any business: …problem solving, …information management, …physical transformation”. --Womack & Jones

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a visualization tool oriented to the Toyota version of Lean Manufacturing (Toyota Production System). It helps to understand and streamline work processes using the tools and techniques of Lean Manufacturing.

VSM addresses material process sequences and flows as well as information flows that impact this movement. It encourages data acquisition in a systematic manner that often gives additional insights. The various icons and symbols have fairly specific meanings and it requires knowledge of these symbols as well as knowledge of TPS to interpret a Value Stream Map and use it well.

VSM InstructorValue Stream Maps reflect a broad view of the process, usually from external supplier to external customer at a given facility. Extended Value Stream Maps take an even broader view and often incorporate tier two and tier three suppliers and distributors.

Like Process Mapping, VSM is most valuable in a group setting. Many of the problems it exposes reach across organizational lines of responsibility and expertise. When a mapping team has representation from all the different functions and specialties, it gains a common understanding of the process and a better position for developing and implementing good solutions.

When To Use Value Stream Maps

No mapping technique fits every situation and purpose. Use Value Stream Mapping for high-production, low-variety product mixes with few components and subassemblies and dedicated equipment. In other situations, Process Mapping, often combined with a Group Technology analysis may be a better choice.

Typical Value Stream Map
VSM Advantages and disadvantages

Where To Use VSM

Value Stream Mapping works best with dedicated processes and low variety as often found in automotive and consumer product operations.

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The Strategos Guide To Value Stream and Process Mapping goes  beyond symbols and arrows. In over 163 pages it tells the reader not only how to do it but what to do with it.

Lean Briefing is only sent to those who subscribe or those who download from the Strategos website.

Books & Videos

Guide to Cycle Counting

Warehouse Planning Guide

Human Side of Lean Video

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