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Value Stream & Value Stream Mapping

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Value Stream and Value Stream Mapping Definition of a Value Stream: By locating the value creating processes next to one another and by processing one unit at a time, work flows smoothly from one step to another and finally to the customer. This chain of value-creating processes is called a value stream. Value stream is a sequence of activities required to design, produce, and provide a specific good or service. Along the value stream information, materials, and worth flows which eventually creates value for the customer requiring the item in production. Lean Manufacturing is all about seeing manufacturing operations as a value stream that flows products to the customer. Some activities add value whilst others just add waste. Value is anything that the customer will pay for whilst waste is anything that adds cost that the customer will not pay for. Examples of waste are overproduction of finished goods, high work in process, excess transport and handling times as well as wasted time while people and goods wait for things to happen. The operation becomes less costly and more responsive to the customer as the company works towards driving waste out of the value stream. Value stream mappng is a tool used in a Lean manufacturing environment to visualize the value stream of a process, department or organization. Value stream mapping consists of creating a picture of the complete material and information flow from customer request through order fulfillment for an operation. Value Stream Mapping can be done at three levels: 1. enterprise level (showing customer-supplier relationships as well as distributors), 2. a door to door level (showing the flow of material and information primarily within a factory, office, or hospital operation), 3. process level map with a narrower scope and more detail. What it Depicts It is intended to identify and then help reduce waste in a whole stream of manufacturing process.

Middle

Factories are complex socio-technical systems that require an integrated approach. For example, Lean Manufacturing requires high teamwork for motivation, coordination and problem solving. It requires an effective mobilization of the collective intelligence of the organization. There may also be quality issues that the company could address through Six Sigma or TQM techniques. Five-S can clean up the plant, improve safety and further raise productivity. Value Stream Mapping addresses none of these directly. This is especially important in manufacturing where many managers have a technical bent and limited awareness of the human issues. The Benefits of Value Stream Mapping As previously mentioned, a value stream map illustrates all the processes that occur from the time a customer places an order for a part or product to the time that the customer receives the product. These maps portray the flow of the value stream as well as the wastes in that flow. Hence, drawbacks of such a system can be easily examined and thus action can be taken to eliminate such wastes. VSMs do not only depict a product's activity, but also that which involves information systems and management. So we can say that all products can be viewed from a systems perspective. This is a major asset; as such analysis helps reduce cycle time. This is due to the fact that one can acquire insight into the decision making flow and, in addition, to the process flow. As a result, such information aids in identifying sources of waste and therefore, later, waste can be eliminated. VSMs show an understanding and connection between information flow and material flow. No other lean manufacturing tool does this. They also help to speed up processes after studying such maps as it helps to identify where the long lead times are established from when the value added time is comparably short. Such maps are influenced by the Kaizen philosophy. This is a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement through all aspects of life.

Conclusion

The Lean philosophy focuses on increasing efficiency whilst decreasing waste and uses already observed methods to balance out what matters. It concentrates on acquiring a better attempt at a previous goal of earlier efficient efforts. This follows the Kaizen philosophy. Thus as waste is eliminated, quality is improved, while production time and cost are reduced. VSM evaluates a product from the very minute it thought of to the time it is in the customer's hands. It includes information that needs to flow to various departments as the product moves through the process. Placing all the processes on paper enables one to see where the waste is, for example, more movement of the product than necessary. It's important to help eliminate the non-value added time and it also helps evaluate where the long lead times come from, when the value added time is very short. Furthermore, 'Lean' focuses on the removal of waste by improving production time and thus resulting in improved quality and cost reduction. Moreover, VSM identifies and eliminates that waste. VSM is an important tool for lean manufacturing as it allows one to see the flow of the value stream and thus allows one to identify opportunities for reducing waste within the flow whilst improving quality. This has already been mentioned a number of times, but it is essential for such a system as its concepts fit so well with lean and so is important to stress such a point. When drawing a VSM, one has to jot down the value adding steps, the delays and all the data required to deliver such a product (or service). Consequently, when observing the map, it is easier to visualise and reach an understanding on how materials and information flow in the value stream in order to undertake changes to satisfy the lean manufacturing philosophy. Once these flows are comprehended, they will be used as a guide-line to set up the future state map with prioritised activities in order to achieve a future state vision. Value stream mapping is an important tool to aid in the performance of all lean manufacturing activities.

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