Why Value Stream Mapping Promotes Continuous Improvement in Manufacturing

If you’re a manufacturer, you know the pressure to be leaner exists daily. There are a lot of models and practices07-about_1 available that can assist you with this mission. Kaizen, or Continuous Improvement, is one of the simpler notions to follow, but the approaches to it branch out into numerous avenues. It’s difficult to choose the starting point that will most benefit your organization; is there one best way to approach it?

For any manufacturer who truly wants to succeed with lean, creating a Value Stream Map (VSM) is one of the best ways to identify where you need to apply lean, what kind of strategy will work the best, and how to continue improvement throughout the lifespan of your company.

Reasons VSMs Work so Well

Value Stream Maps are different from process maps in a lot of ways. Those differences are what make these so integral to your lean plan. What VSMs provide for you is a visual representation and analysis of your material and information flow so you can see the big picture. These maps offer:

  • A depiction of the interaction between numerous functions within the manufacturing process along with the ancillary functions like scheduling, managing materials, production planning, etc.
  • A visual of both the communication (flow of information) and material flow throughout the entire process. You can quickly identify limiting factors in coordination and in-process materials with a visual model of the progression.
  • Graphics that provide an enhanced outline of restrictions, bottlenecks, and limits to efficiency.
  • Easy visualization of the limiting factors as well as the improvements to work flow so that everyone in the company – all the stakeholders – can quickly comprehend the information and agree to contribute to culture change.
  • Clear direction for all parties on how to accomplish continuous improvement.
  • A fluid blueprint and monitoring system that changes with updates so you can continually see where the improvements worked and where you need to focus next.

If you’re wondering what goes into a VSM and how to create one, read our article on it here.

Applying a Solution

If you find inefficiencies related to manually moving parts and product across the floor, there is an easy solution. One of the most effective means to decrease required manpower, limit the need for forklifts, and optimize movement is to use a cart and tugger system.

Power tugs have been an integral part of continuous improvement since the inception of Kaizen. They improve the process flow so well that productivity skyrockets. They also minimize the risk of injuries for pushing and pulling tasks. This equipment has been implemented in forklift-free models as they can move a lot more with minimal manpower. Talk to Load Mover about where you need lean applied. We’ll help you understand where and how a power tug will cut waste from your process. 952-767-1720; info@loadmoverinc.com.