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Approaching VSM and Use of Computers with Takt

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Overview of Lean and Value Stream Mapping

Lean is based on the Toyota Production System (TPS), and that system is focused on the flow of ‘product’ (good or service) through the entire process.

One of the 5 core principles of Lean is to identify the value stream for each product providing customer-desired value, and remove all of the wasted (non-value-added) steps in providing that product. You can visualize the Value Stream (VS) through the use of a Value Stream Map (VSM). The VSM is material and information flow mapping; a visual and analytical tool to identify, analyze, and eliminate waste in the VS.

Before you jump into using tools for Lean analysis, you must be ready to embark upon your Lean journey. Ensure that your organization has a change agent with the responsibility and authorization to make the lean transformation happen. Get everyone who will be involved in Lean familiar with Lean concepts and techniques, and assign a Value Stream manager to take responsibility for the VS being improved.

Okay, So I’m Ready to Map the Value Stream; Now What?

Before you begin Value Stream Mapping, identify what the Value Stream is; identify the common sets of product that go through largely similar steps from a high-level view. Then go to the ‘Gemba’ (where the work is done), and see what’s happening. Record where waste occurs. Don’t get caught up in wanting precise data on how the process varies. Lean is about identifying and eliminating waste, not about precise analysis of variation; only drill into the detail when necessary. Typically 80-90% of the time in any process is waste, and it’s learning to see and eliminate that waste that’s important.

There are many methods to capture VSM information. Some people are proponents of pencil-and-paper, or yellow sticky notes. While these methods may work well initially, or for small efforts, they tend to be limited. You’ll eventually run out of wall space, sticky notes can fall off, it’s hard to share and work across geographies, and analyzing or re-analyzing the data as you work towards the Future State becomes tedious. The use of a computer, and in particular of iGrafx software, can help you go beyond these limitations.

Once you start creating the VSM, let iGrafx accelerate the drawing of the map and do some of the ‘math’ for you. iGrafx will automatically build a timeline for you, and can calculate Takt, overall lead time, Value-Added (VA) vs. Non-Value-Added (NVA) time, Inventory impacts, effect of parallel operators/operations, etc. You can make the map look however you want, and handle multiple timelines, parallel paths, rework, variation in shifts or schedules, sub-VSMs rolled up to supply chain level, use of Swimlanes®, and even exporting/importing data for further analysis in Excel.

Once you’ve created the VSM and let iGrafx (or even Excel) do some of the calculations and analysis, ensure that you share the information with others beyond you and your team. Use the publishing capabilities, including auto-publishing to Web with the iGrafx Platform, to disseminate the VSM to those outside of your team. Get people’s comments and/or buy-in (e.g. using Cycle management in the Platform),and move forward.

Remember that a VSM is simply muda (NVA, or waste) if you don’t do anything with it. Use Kaizen events— and Kaizen ‘lightning burst’ shapes on the VSM— to document ideas for improvement. Use the Cause-and-Effect (5-Why?) and Pick Chart tools in iGrafx to establish root causes and discuss solutions to problems. Work towards a Future State diagram of the VSM that communicates the new, improved process to those that will make the implementation decisions, and to those that must implement and use the new and improved process.

Once you have achieved the Future State you have envisioned, you can now use it as the Current State, and start the process again. As you relentlessly work towards process perfection through continued application of Lean principles, iGrafx can be a key tool in your toolkit to optimize change.

Want to learn more about Lean and Value Stream Mapping and how it can help your organization? Contact iGrafx to speak to a VSM expert.


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