What is Value Stream Mapping?
The use of Value Stream Mapping (VSM) has been attributed to the cause of much of the
success that Toyota of Japan has had since the 1980’s1 . Developed during the work conducted
by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota in the 1960’s and 70‘s, at its basic level VSM is a systematic methodology to identify wasted time and actions in a manufacturing process. In more recent times VSM it has been used to re-engineer businesses because it identifies unnecessary effort and resources to permit simplification and streamlining of operations processes.
In Taiichi Ohno’s words – “All we are doing is looking at the time line from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing that time line by removing the non-value-added wastes.” (Ohno, 1988) It is useful to explain the meaning of several key concepts used in VSM. These are: what is meant by a process, what waste is, what is meant by ‘flow’, what constitutes value-adding, along with what is needless non-value-adding and what is necessary non-value-adding.
A process is a series of activity steps that move inventory from one step to the next to transform it into the intended output, as shown in Figure 1. The output could be a physical item or a service. A process can be any type or size and cover any period of time. Each step in a process also consists of processes within the step. VSM is used to investigate processes to identify improvement opportunities lying in their wastefulness and lack of fluidity.
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