Any Value Stream Map needs to include a substantial amount of information so that you can immediately have a visual representation of the flow within your business, so that decisions can be made about where waste can be eliminated and where improvements can be made.

The whole process is a reverse process. First you have to start with the customer’s requirements and needs. They need x amount of x products. However, it is important to identify all the different customers, since the VSM may be involved with a product that has multiple customers and these customers may have different requirements or needs; all these need to be identified and listed.

The basic form is to start with the end, ‘finished’ product and from there map two different flows; material flow and information flow. But within these two broad categories, detailed information has to be included. For example:

How Do Goods Reach The Customer?

The next step looks at how goods are transported to the customers. How frequently are they transported to the customer?

You then need to look at the transportation method. Is this shipping or lorries or even lorry then shipping or even by train? In a data box you need to look at the time involved, how many items are transported an when and how much of a particular resource is taken up by the transportation method. It is also helpful to look at how long the goods have to wait to be transported and how they are stored when awaiting this transportation.

Production Processes

This stage of the VSM looks at various aspects (not necessarily all aspects) of the different steps involved in a process. A process box will examine one specific field of the material flow. Each process box will discontinue where the material flow stops and the processes become disconnected from each other.

The important thing to note here is that there has to be a process box for every specific aspect or field of material flow. The data required may also be inserted in information boxes. Whichever is used, the information incorporated here needs to look at how often parts are completed by a specific process and the changeover time that is incurred when switching production to different goods. The time the machines are in use should also be included.

The number of different forms of the same product is also relevant, as is the batch sizes that are used in terms of how often they are used e.g. is it every two days, or every 5 days.

Final points for consideration within the process boxes are how many people are working on each part of the process and the working time involved (breaktimes should not be included). Then the pack size should be listed, because it is important to know how many items are in a specific shipment/lorryload etc. The very last point to look at here is the defect rate i.e. how many of the products are rejected on the grounds of quality.

Information Flow

Once you have undertaken all the different aspects of the material flow, it is necessary to draw in the information flow. This is always drawn up above the area of the physical flow and again it works in reverse, with the customer’s needs identified first.

All aspects of the information supplied throughout the process, from the point where the customer receives your items, to the ordering of raw materials and supplies has to be detailed. Information that operators have and what their level of information awareness is, also has to be taken into account.

The last stage of the process is to link the information flow with the material flow. This is where the operators provide the key information about how the two processes tie in together. Do they know where items come from, or how to re-order them? Do they know what to do when things go wrong etc?

To complete this process it is necessary to look at all the material flow process boxes and then ascertain how this links to the information flow.

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