Productivity, Lean Manufacturing

Value Stream Mapping in 7 Steps

June 11, 2013

Machine Accessories Productivity 3 One of the most useful tools CNC machine shops have for reducing costs and improving performance is a concept called Value Stream Mapping. Typically used by companies who wish to implement Lean Manufacturing, Value Stream Mapping is a way to identify and analyze all of the activities involved in delivering a product or service to the customer. For CNC machine operations this could be anything from a single part to a complete product.

The goal of Value Stream Mapping is to critically address every step in the manufacturing process, identify wasted labor, time or materials and reduce or eliminate their impact on the process. Here are 7 steps you can follow to examine and improve virtually any manufacturing process.

  1. Document the current process. Be certain not to skip anything or take an activity for granted. You need to look upstream and downstream as well as the machining cycle, itself.
  2. Identify and list every step in the process. What is the first step? Is it when you get the order from the customer? When you receive the part print? What is the last step? When shipped from your dock? When the customer receives it? Start with the earliest possible stage of the process and end with the point at which the customer is completely satisfied.
  3. Identify customer value. Once you’ve listed every step in the process, look at each step critically to determine which add value to the customer and which do not. What would happen to your costs and customer satisfaction if you could eliminate all of the steps that don’t add any value?
  4. Define what the perfect process looks like. If you could eliminate every bit of waste and deliver a product that has 100% value, what would that process look like? In this step, don’t encumber your thinking with practical concerns. It’s not likely you will ever be able to achieve the perfect process, but you need to visualize what it would look like if you could.
  5. Identify those parts of the current process that get in the way of perfection. Given the reality of your situation, how close can you come to the perfect state you envision in step 4? How many of the steps that add no value to the customer can you improve? For example, if you receive part prints in hard copy form, can you get a CAD file? Can your machine control system use that file to simplify part programming? Could a custom APP make the programming easier?
  6. Identify major initiatives to reduce or eliminate waste. In step 5 you’ll identify areas that can be improved and develop possible ways to do so. Perhaps you need to upgrade to a machine tool that has greater capabilities and a more sophisticated controller. Or you may consider automating certain functions with robotics, pallet systems or other equipment. Maybe you simply need advice on tooling or fixtures. It could also be that your machine operators need additional training. If machine reliability is a problem, you may need a more effective planned preventative maintenance program. Naturally you’ll need to develop a cost/benefit analysis for any significant investment. Gosiger’s trusted advisors can help you through this process.
  7. Assign tasks and responsibilities. Once you’ve determined the needed initiatives you must develop a plan for identifying viable resources, considering your options, making final decisions and implementing the plan steps. This plan should have clearly defined assignments for those involved and due dates for the various phases.

By following these 7 steps, you can greatly improve the cost-efficiency of your manufacturing processes, eliminate waste and maximize customer value. You may never achieve 100%, but think of what an 80% improvement could mean for your business. As you work through the Value Stream Mapping process, the Gosiger team stands ready to help you every step of the way.