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Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a method of graphically representing (or mapping) all of the individual activities that take place during production, from the moment assembly materials and components are received to the point when the finished product leaves the facility. All activities—including those that add value and those that do not—are considered in the process. The process can be as sophisticated as a computer software program, or as simple as a pencil and paper procedure.

What Steps Are Involved?

On its most basic level, VSM involves three key steps:

  • Creation of a Current State Map—a map of where you are now, with all of the actions currently required to bring a product through production, including design, production, and so on.
  • Creation of a Future State Map—a map of where you want to be, illustrating how it is possible to build the product without all of the non-value-added activities that contribute to waste and customer dissatisfaction.
  • Creation of an Implementation Plan—a one-page plan, which describes the steps needed to progress from your current state to your future state.

The Big Picture

Rather than examining individual processes such as machining, assembly, and so on, VSM provides a broad look at all actions affecting production. Advantages of VSM include the following:

  • Identifies sources of waste by providing a clear picture of how upstream and downstream processes affect (or are affected by) each other.
  • Is a first step towards implementing other lean manufacturing efforts?
  • Allows better interaction among departmental groups and provides a common language for discussion.

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