Many people find it easier to understand complex processes with some sort of visualization tool. That concept holds true from children learning math skills to those in the business world. Lean manufacturing refers to identifying value and eliminating waste to improve overall efficiency in a manufacturing or business process. You can use different tools to accomplish these things; one such useful tool is value stream mapping.
Originally used in manufacturing, value stream mapping is a process that allows you to create a visual map of every step in your workflow, whether it’s a picture of how a single product is created and distributed or a diagram showing how your entire company operates. You can analyze this map to identify waste, areas that need improvement and things that work well and add value.
Several other industries now use this tool as well. Software development, marketing, IT services, healthcare, logistics and supply chain management, service industries and office management rely on value stream mapping to organize and improve workflows and procedures. Businesses can use this tool to visualize any process that includes repetitive steps and multiple transfers of the product or service being mapped. Basically, a value stream map pinpoints things that add value from your customer’s point of view. Highlighting things that don’t add value to your product or service shows you possible steps to cut out or modify to save costs.
Manufacturing a single item and getting it into your customer’s hands includes many steps. From idea to prototype to finished product to customer, you can examine every piece of relevant data in an easy-to-read flow chart using value stream mapping. You’ll see the amount of time each step takes, the costs, lead time, supply chain issues and employee involvement for each map you create. Once everything is laid out for you, look for things that add value for your customers in addition to identifying unnecessary steps. Using the Lean concept, value includes both what your customer pays for and also procedures you implement to deliver quality products or services. Quality control is one example of those procedures.
Value stream mapping benefits include:
Companies that use value stream mapping may have two types of value streams. The first, operational value streams, focus on maps of current products and processes. Development value streams either show future products in development or an improved version of a current operational value stream. Some components in a value stream might be:
When decision-makers analyze these numbers, they can implement cost-cutting measures as indicated by the value stream map.
TAn efficient, smoothly running process is likely to make more profit. While your current process may work, new information, procedures and strategies could make it work better. Evaluating and re-evaluating your company’s workflows can improve your efficiency, point to better methods and help you to create better products for your customers. For example, say that your company produces different sizes and thicknesses of plastic sheeting using multiple machines. Your value stream map might show that:
Each of these data points identifies issues that, when studied, point towards possible solutions. Potential resolutions for that information are:
While you can do rough value stream mapping manually, using software that is designed to do it for you saves time and frustration; it also increases efficiency by automating your workflows. Fluix software is an easy-to-use solution that helps you map out your company’s current processes in real-time. Before you can automate your business processes, you must create a value stream map using the Fluix workflow builder.
You need to gather a lot of data to create your value stream map. Developing your initial map may require talking to the people responsible for each step in your workstream to be sure your information is accurate and relevant.
Lean manufacturing concepts seek to identify seven areas of waste that decrease your company’s profitability:
Flow maps use easy-to-understand symbols to show how a product progresses throughout the mapped processes, from start to finish. Four categories of symbols are standard: general, information, material and process flows. Lots of variations exist, but using the Fluix platform for all of your company’s value stream mapping flow charts allows you to have consistency throughout your teams. This is useful because the people who analyze the maps only need to be familiar with one set of symbols rather than several varying sets used by individual departments.
There’s a delicate balance between having too much and too little inventory on hand. Using value stream mapping and automated workflows with Fluix can eliminate the guessing game where inventory is concerned. Overproduction can cost your company in many ways. The money spent on producing that extra inventory is now in limbo until you sell your products; you’ll have to wait to see a return on investment. You must also store excess inventory. That takes space, time and labor to stow it away and then bring it out of storage when it is sold. Mapping your inventory’s flow rate makes it easier to see where and how you can optimize your inventory numbers.
The Fluix platform is available in three levels with pricing starting at only $20 monthly for each user. The consultants at Fluix can help you choose the plan that best suits your company’s needs, and you’ll continue to receive exceptional support after your 14-day free trial. Fluix offers many tools to help you create value stream maps and automate your workflow processes:
Fluix not only delivers a secure process management solution but also helps to power your productivity. Fluix users see measurable results immediately, and you can, too. Ask for more information using live chat on the website or create an account and begin your free trial today.
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