6 useful tips to draw current state value stream mapping

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In our previous article, we discussed the 9 key steps to draw current state value stream mapping. We also wanted to share with our readers, some useful tips and tricks while you are mapping your current state in a Value Stream Mapping exercise.

  1. Always collect current-state information while walking along the actual pathways of material and information flows yourself.
  2. Begin with a quick wall along the entire door-to-door value stream, to get a sense of the flow and sequence of processes. After the quick walk through, go back and gather information at each process.
  3. Begin at the shipping end and work upstream, instead of starting at the receiving dock and walking downstream. This way you will start with the process that is most directly linked the customer.
  4. Bring your stopwatch and do not rely on standard times or information that you do not personally obtain. Your ability to envision a future state depends upon personally going to where the action is and understanding and timing what is happening.
  5. Map the whole value stream yourself, even if several people are involved. Understanding the whole flow is what value stream mapping is about. If different people map different segments, then no one will understand the whole.
  6. Always draw by hand in pencil. Begin your rough sketch on the shop floor as you conduct your current-state analysis, and clean it up later – again by hand and in pencil. Resist the temptation to use a computer.

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9 key steps to draw the current state in value stream mapping

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In our previous article, we discussed about the characteristics of current state and future state in value stream mapping. Developing a future state begins with an analysis of the current production situation. As value stream mapping is a pencil and paper tool, take out a blank paper and draw the current state of your production system by your hand – this helps you focus on understanding the flow, instead of on how to use the computer.

  1. Mapping begins with the customer requirements
    The place to begin is to identify the customer requirements of a product family, which is considered as the high value or the high volume item in the product portfolio. Improving this product family process should directly benefit the customer. The customer’s plant is represented by a factory icon and it is placed in the upper right-hand portion of the map. Underneath this icon, we’ll draw a data box recording the requirements of the customer like dispatch quantity, number of shifts, packing standards – tray or pallets or pieces.
  2. Draw basic production processes
    Identify the critical steps in your production and map the material flow from left to right on the bottom half of the map in the order of processing steps; not according to the plant layout. Use a process box to represent each process.Process box
  3. Collect process data
    A data box should be drawn under each process box containing the following data.

    • C/T (Cycle time)
    • C/O (Changeover time)
    • Up time (on-demand machine time)
    • EPE (Every part every __ or production batch size)
    • Number of operators
    • Number of product variations
    • Pack size
    • Working time (minus breaks)
    • Scrap rate


  4. Capture inventory
    Use a “warning triangle” symbol to identify the location and amount of inventory. If the inventory accumulates in more than one location between two processes, draw a triangle for each location.
  5. Map logistics required for shipping & procurement
    A truck box and a broad arrow indicate movement of finished goods to the customer (create rail or air freight icons if you need them) and movement of supplies from the supplier. Record in a data box below, the supplier’s pack size and replenishment lead time.
  6. Map the information flow
    To map the information flow, you would require a narrow line to show the information flow within the organization and a line with a lighting-like wiggle when the information flows electronically (via electronic data interchange) rather by paper.
    Information flow
  7. Go see scheduling
    If shop supervisors of your facility manually count inventory and make schedule adjustments based on that information, then it is called “Go see scheduling” and it is shown in the mapping with an eyeglass icon.
    Go see scheduling
  8. Show Push movement
    The term “Push” means that a process produces something regardless of the actual needs of the downstream customer process and “pushes” it ahead. Except the shipping department, which is connected to a customer, if all other processes are producing according to a schedule, then transferring materials from one process to the next is occurring via push. A push arrow is drawn between each process.Push process
  9. Calculate Timeline
    Draw a timeline under the process boxes and inventory triangles to compile the production lead time, which is the time it takes one part to make its way through the shop floor, beginning with arrival as raw material through to shipment to the customer.timeline

By adding the lead times through each process and through each inventory triangle in the material flow, we can arrive at a good estimate of total production lead time. Now add up only the processing times, for each process in the value stream.

In our experience, greater than 95% of the total lead time recorded in any VSM exercise is a non-value adding activity.

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4 simple steps to create value stream mapping

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Value stream mapping is a technique which embarks the journey of lean manufacturing by mapping together the information and the materials that flow through the system – from supplier to one’s customer.

This PowerPoint-free method, which ends up with only a few sheets of paper, should not take more than two days and it can transform your business by following the three simple steps mentioned below.

  1. Selecting a product family
    Unless you have a small, one-product plant, drawing all your product flows on one map is too complicated. Hence identify the product families that pass through the similar processing steps and over common equipment in your downstream process. If your product mix is complicated you can create a matrix with assembly steps and equipment on one axis, and your products on the other axis (see below).
    product family matrix
  2. Creating current-state drawing
    Developing a future state beings with an analysis of the current production situation. It begins at the level of the door-to-door flow in your plant, where you draw process categories like “assembly” or “welding”, instead of recording each processing step.Use a set of symbols or icons to represent the processes and flows. You can develop additional icons of your own, but keep them consistent within your company.
  3. Creating future-state drawing 
    The purpose of value stream mapping is to highlight sources of waste and eliminate them by implementing the future state value stream thereby building a chain of production where the individual processes are linked to their customer(s) either by continuous flow or pull, and each process gets as close as possible to producing only what it customer(s) need & when they need it.
  4. Work plan and implementation
    The final step is to prepare and begin actively using an implementation plan that describes, on one page, how you plan to achieve the future state. Then, as your future state becomes reality, a new future state map should be drawn. That’s continuous improvement at the value-stream level, there must always a future-state map.

    Value Stream Mapping
    Value Stream Mapping

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8 things you need to know about Value Stream Mapping

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Value stream mapping is a pencil and paper tool that helps you to see and understand the flow of material and information as a product makes its way through the value stream.

  1. It helps you visualize more than just the single-process level, i.e., assembly, welding, etc., in production. You can see the flow.
  2. It helps you see more than waste. Mapping helps you see the sources of waste in your value stream.
  3. It provides a common language for talking about manufacturing processes.
  4. It makes decisions about the flow apparent, so you can discuss them. Otherwise, many details and decisions on your shop floor just happen by default.
  5. It ties together lean concepts and techniques, which helps you avoid “cherry picking”.
  6. It forms the basis of an implementation plan. By helping you design how the whole door-to-door flow should operate.
  7. It shows the linkage between information flow and the material flow. No other tool does this.
  8. It is much more useful than the quantitative tools and layout diagrams that produce a tally of non value-creating steps, lead time, distance traveled, the amount of inventory, and so on.
Value Stream Mapping - Sample
Value Stream Mapping – Sample

Value stream mapping is a quantitative tool by which you describe in detail how your facility should operate in order to create flow. It is good for describing what you are actually going to do to affect those numbers.

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What is Value Stream Mapping?

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               When we want to see the bigger picture of our business, value stream mapping is the best tool to be used. Before we enter in to details, let us understand what is meant by value stream. Value stream is the list of all activities, both value-adding and non-value-adding, currently required to bring a product or service from raw materials or concept into the hands of customer. Value stream mapping is documenting the present activities (Both value adding and non-Value adding) of the system and investigating the possible future state of the system by reducing the Non value added activities. In a typical process, the value added time is five percentage of the total time. A team consisting of members from all departments must be formed to create the value stream mapping.

Data in a Value stream mapping

A typical Value Stream mapping consists of the following data

  • Customer
  • Information flow from Customer
  • Information flow with in the factory
  • Supplier and the information flow to the Supplier
  • Process involved in producing the product
  • Inventory in each step of the process
  • Cycle time (C/T) of each step
  • Total cycle time
  • Change over time (C/O)
  • Number of operators
  • Scrap rate
  • Batch size
  • Availability of machines

Uniqueness of Value Stream Mapping

  • It takes a holistic view of the operations; suppliers, internal operations and the customers. This gives a clear view of the processes and the critical areas where various improvements can be initiated.
  • In addition to material flow the information flow which impact the material movement is also documented. Hence it is helpful in reducing the cycle time of the process
  • It also gives a picture of the inventory in the entire value stream. Hence it is helpful in reducing the Inventory level

Symbols used in Value Stream Mapping

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

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