Value Stream Mapping and Continuous Improvement
The goal of Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is continuous process improvement to positively impact profits. Cost reductions and efficiencies from process improvements are combined to improve the company’s bottom line. VSM and continuous improvement help to achieve greater profitability. First, it is important to understand what these processes are:
- VSM is a visual representation of current state conditions and an improvement plan for future state conditions in manufacturing. It helps businesses assess, monitor and identify process improvementsThe resulting value map includes information about labor and materials not just machine production. Inherent waste and losses occurring throughout the entire process are more easily identified. VSM should be the precursor to implementation of any lean process program.
- Continuous improvement (CI) looks for ways to improve operations and reduce waste on an ongoing basis. CI is important because dramatic operational improvements are achieved through the steady accumulation of small improvements over a period of time.
Excess costs can plague the entire production process and can go unnoticed. VSM looks at the process and accompanying data, establishing a detailed account of what is actually occurring on the production floor. Bottlenecks are identified and clues about how they were created are analyzed. Excess inventory is identified and addressed. VSM also helps identify poor quality, a prime cause of waste. Fixing the dual problems of excess inventory and poor quality produces cost savings.
Improved Efficiency & Productivity
VSM is designed to meticulously reveal all the problems encountered in a process and provide insights on efficiency. Many times several little problems are revealed that require individual attention. Small improvements in the production process can be cumulative adding up to big savings over time. The only downside is you must often allow ample time between small production improvements to actually ascertain if cost reductions will be realized. VSM identifies restrictions then demonstrates where improvements can be made. It becomes easier to see where process limitations are hiding that impact productivity.
In order for the VSM process to be successful there needs to be a plan for follow-up and implementation. VSM cannot be a one-time event where employees are pumped-up for a few hours and corralled into a conference room to brainstorm. The VSM process needs to spring to life off of the post-its they were written on. Subsequent programs are essential to implement the recommended changes to achieve cost savings and an improved bottom line. Otherwise the exercise should be considered a waste of time.
We can help you with your Value Stream Mapping and continuous improvement efforts.
Contact NJMEP to learn about the services we provide or to discuss your most important business issues. For more information, visit NJMEP’s Lean Business Solution page .