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Improving Efficiency and Eliminating Waste: Value Stream Mapping in Lean Manufacturing

May 21, 2023 | 0 comments

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May 21, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


Value stream mapping is a tool for lean manufacturing developed by Toyota to be implemented on their production system; it uses diagrams to illustrate and examine the current process and tries to improve it. Began as a part of lean manufacturing which is a part of Toyota production system which aims to ensure the efficient flow of materials from when the product begins to be manufactured until it gets completed and value stream mapping helps in monitoring the flow of the production lines to eliminate wastes (Rother and Shook, 2009p.90). According to (Ohno, 1988) Lean manufacturing is a logical method to identify and eliminate waste through continuous improvement by passing the product at the demand of the customer. The aim of this research and reading essay is to demonstrate the effectiveness of value stream mapping as a lean tool and to show its strength and weakness in order to get the highest result and the advantages for using lean over mass production with a focus on the last 10 years.


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Potential Company Wastes

– this refers to the production of more than required goods.
Presence of defects– defects to the products may result into waste of production time and cost ineffectiveness.
Inventory– leads to added storage costs of goods and increase in defect rates. Large inventories increase the cost of production leading to higher costs of production.
Transportation– refers to wastes resulting from transportation of goods from and to various destinations. This is a non- valuable activity that is often added in the company operations which should be reduced.

Waiting– this causes waste of time resource. It is crucial for lean manufacturing of the company to reduce waiting of services.
Over processing– refers to unreasonably doing more processing work that is not obligatory to the customer. It leads to increase in costs due to use unnecessarily using more resources than needed.
Motion– walking from one corner to the other unreasonably in the company may slow down the production capacity and speed of the workers (Locher, 2008).


A case study of Northern Industrial Supply Manufacturing Industry

Northern Industrial Supply (NIS) in Australia is a manufacturing corporation that manufactures various electromechanical gadgets. The lead time for the products is approximately seven days from when it is shipped from the factory to the market. The innovation process in value stream mapping mainly focuses on creating favorable current and future stream values maps that will reduce the current lead time by 60% when it is finally implemented. The process will also increase on the industry’s current operations. Purposefully, the company intends to employ lean thinking and lean tools in operations to minimize waste in the manufacturing process.

Value stream mapping (VSM) is a flow chart that uses the language of lean symbols to reduce and illustrate the flow of company’s operational processes. The purpose of VSM is to provide optimum value of electromechanical products to the customers through innovative creation of value and least possible lead time. This case study focuses on Northern Industrial Supply and draws the implementation of innovative stream value map. The managers of the company view implementing the value stream mapping sustainability programs to reduce the cost of production and further increase efficiency.

The company has employed lean manufacturing procedures to reduce the environmental impacts while improving the manufacturing efficiency. According to Rahman (2013), the use of value stream mapping has created the visualization of inputs and output productions. For example, the labour hours and units and materials produced have been implemented to improve the functions. The research done on the company indicated that the expansion of VSM utility has provided a more inclusive picture of the costs of operation that has led to the reduction of production costs. For instance, when used in injection modeling system, there has been potential incredible reduction of energy consumption enhancing energy savings. The benefits of VSM to the manufacturing company are just extraordinary. It has led to the creation of value with robust, flexible and adaptive process. However, VSM is not succinct. It is not analytical process as the management of the value provides the tools for analysis.

Detection and elimination of these wastes in the process of production will help in creating lean environment for the production processes of the company.
The implementation of VSM led to driving of smaller batch sizes hence minimized the work in progress inventory. In electro motives, the cost of operating large machines may lead to voluminous production and then putting off the machines. However, a smaller machine would balance the lean and cost effectiveness. Today, the company uses front line innovations that incorporate lean tools to achieve improvements in operations hence maximizing profits and minimizing losses.

A Case Study of Nickel Electrical Company


Nickel Electrical Company was founded in 1988. It performs commercial, industrial and residential electrical works in Maryland and Virginia. The company has maintained high quality standards and integrity. However, with the changing technology, the company adopted innovative procedures to cut on their costs and increase profits while maintaining customer satisfaction. The use of VSM has enabled the company to measure the flow of information and material in the process of production. The flow of material gives the company exhaustive information about the production process step by step.

The company considers the implementation of VSM as a superior tool to other production tools. VSM permit provision of detailed information that is specific to step of the process. The detailed information provided by value stream mapping include; cycle time, tact time, available time, change over time, number of operators, scrap time, downtime and throughput (Rother and Shook, 2003). The recording of the in depth processes of information enables the manager of processing to note the key areas of improvement and the effects of the adopted improvements.

Electrical consumption is a significant in depth detailed process information that is usually categorized and recorded depending on every step of processing. As illustrated below, VSM conveys information for comparison with another in the process steps. It also provides how the steps contribute to the overall time and value of production. Highlighted in red, is the overall power estimated for each process step. By finding the product of power rating and time available, kilowatt/ hour/day for each process can be determined. Electrical consumption estimation for every step allows the managers of the processes to associate the time and value of production via consumption of electricity. The figure bellow illustrates how VSM will record detailed information of the process steps.

The figure above illustrates the step process finishing with a power rate of 44.2kW with 30% downtime.
Finishing is an area with high consumption of electricity area that should be evaluated for energy improvements and potential processes. In the illustration, finishing is the potential area of improvement to eliminate the leaks in the airline in the step process.

VSM is an effective tool for measuring time and value in electrical consumption. It allows the managers to note the process impacts on reducing consumption of electricity. The process identifies non-value added and value added step processes, which, is important when implementing lean thinking hence eliminating wastes in electrical consumption. By using VSM, electrical consumption is considered to be non-value added and value added that in turn enables the consumers to determine waste of electricity. The company, however, experienced unavailability of raw materials, the VSM inconsistency in leading to cycle time deviations. For instance, the power line was largely affected by inefficiency of the process with high inventory volumes, low uptime, waiting and at times delays in checking the processes.

Companies have developed and validated a clear framework for implementing VSM (Martin & Osterling 2013). This improves the production process performance of industries. As illustrated in the case studies, VSM gives the process managers to an edge to improve the production processes. It enables the management make decisions based on the information from the VSM. Also, the managers have time to evaluate and understand problems and the recommended solutions. 



Locher, D. (2008). Value stream mapping for lean development: A how-to guide for streamlining time to market. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis.

Martin, K., & Osterling, M. (2013). Value stream mapping: How to visualize work and align leadership for organizational transformation.

Ohno, K., & International Monetary Fund. (1988). Export pricing behavior of manufacturing: A U.S.-Japan comparison. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund.

Process Map/Value Stream Map. (January 01, 2011). 280-286.

Rahman, H. (July 01, 2013). Open Innovation in Entrepreneurships: Taxonomies of Innovation in Knowledge-Based Economy. International Journal of E-Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ijeei), 4, 3, 1-15.

Rother, M., Shook, J., & Lean Enterprise Institute LEI (Cambridge). (2009). Value-stream mapping workshop: Participant guide : a learning solution from LEI. Cambridge: Lean Enterprise Institute LEI.

Rother, M., Shook, J., & Lean Enterprise Institute. (2009). Learning to see: Value stream mapping to create value and eliminate muda. Cambridge, MA: Lean Enterprise Institute.

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