Utilizing Value Stream Mapping as a means to Operational Excellence

Obtaining operational excellence. Sometimes it seems an impossible goal, as competitive interests and hazardous markets create seemingly insurmountable obstacles. However, the continuous improvement, education and a drive to excel needed for success require that operational excellence be kept as a fundamental goal. Lean thinking continues to dominate schools of thought dedicated to achieving that goal, offering a comprehensive set of tools, best practices, concepts and strategies designed to effectively address any manufacturing organization’s needs and eliminate waste that is reducing their efficiency.

Value stream mapping is a technique for analyzing the procedural flow of materials along a manufacturing line from initial stages to delivery. By mapping this flow, it becomes possible to determine how to refine the current state of the line to the point where continuous flow of materials to completion and delivery is as efficient as it can be. By detailing the activities involved and representing them as a value stream, waste can be identified and operations streamlined. Effective value stream maps are often taken on the floor, closest to the processes represented by the map. Logistical representations of those processes need to be properly conveyed through the map itself, and as such it is incredibly important to be as accurately and realistically descriptive as possible. When it comes time to use the map for planning strategies, it can be utilized in several capacities. One strategy calls for each aspect of the line that is represented on the map to be broken down into interchangeable parts that can be moved around in planning stages in order to streamline their placement.

Value stream mapping is one of the many aspects of Six Sigma training, itself a comprehensive set of strategies, techniques and tools for improvement. Concentrating further on the elimination of waste and defects, and minimizing variability in manufacturing results, Six Sigma training…

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