How to create a value stream map for a leaner manufacturing process

Middle aged man maps a process on clear glass

Inventory piling up? Unnecessarily long transportation times? Employees waiting around with nothing to do? When it comes to supply chain management, minimizing waste is one of the best ways to reduce cost and improve efficiency. That’s where value stream mapping (VSM) comes in.

What is value stream mapping?

Value stream mapping is a flowchart method used to illustrate and improve the process by which services or products are delivered to customers. It accounts for every step of the process, from origin to delivery, and is aimed at improving the final product or service. Items are mapped as adding value or not adding value, and items which don’t add value—waste, in other words—are ideally removed.

Value stream mapping factors into the broader concept of lean manufacturing, and indeed lean theory in general. Put simply, lean manufacturing is a methodology aimed at minimizing waste while maximizing productivity. Mapping the value stream is a great way to identify waste and achieve optimal efficiencies within your supply chain.

Value stream mapping vs. process mapping: what’s the difference?

The difference between value stream mapping and process mapping is a frequent question, but it’s a simple distinction. While process maps and value stream maps are both used to perform current state analysis, process maps are mainly used for visualization. Value stream maps, on the other hand, are used to improve the process. In essence, they’re a more detailed form of process maps.

What are the advantages of using value stream maps in the supply chain?

There are many advantages to using value stream maps. They help identify and remove waste, boost productivity, and allow you to compete more effectively on the market. In a nutshell, they help make your organization more efficient.

How to create a value stream map: a step by step guide

Creating a value stream map can seem like a daunting challenge, but with so many effective value stream mapping tools available, it can be a relatively stress-free process. Typically, a current state value stream map will be drawn before a future state or ideal state value stream map is modeled. Microsoft has an example of a value stream map available to download, for a little more information on what’s actually required.

1. Determine the scope of your value stream map

First, you need to determine the scope—the start/end points—of your value stream map. Typically, you’ll begin with suppliers and raw materials, ending with the end-consumer. You can also create value stream maps for smaller segments of the supply chain. 

2. Map the steps

Next, it’s time to actually map the steps involved in a particular process or supply chain. This can be time-consuming, but the most important thing is to map each process that’s involved, from start to finish.

3. Add the process data

Form inventory to cycle time, actual work time to unused work time, this is the part of the process wherein you evaluate the performance of each step in your supply chain. Number of workers, machinery downtime, batch size, and many more factors need to be taken into consideration.

4. Draw the information flow

Remember, value stream mapping isn’t just about production, it’s also about information and communication. Make note of each line of communication and add it to the value stream map.

5. Create a timeline

The final piece of the puzzle is to create a timeline. Since ‘waste’ is what’s being measured, timelines are extremely important, as they can help to identify inefficiencies in lead times or imbalances between processing times and lead times.

At this point, you should have a good understanding of where the waste in your supply chain is located. And now, you can start taking the necessary steps to eliminate it.

Need more information?

There are plenty of UPS solutions to support your lean manufacturing goals. From proper mode selection to streamlined order processing, enhanced visibility to inventory management, UPS solutions can align with the improved processes identified by your value stream mapping tools. Remember, value stream mapping demands that customers receive the product at exactly the right time, not too early and not too late. That’s something that the broad, seamless capabilities of UPS can help with, while multi-modal visibility technology can help you see what’s coming in and when.

Using value stream maps supported by UPS solutions, you can begin to start the process of removing waste from your supply chain. It may be a good idea to start with a limited focus and budget, before moving onto more complex, but potentially rewarding, transitions. Find out more information about how UPS can help at UPS Ready.

Find out more

Was this helpful?
Stay informed. Sign up for our emails.
Subscribe to UPS emails.

Email Examples

Sign up for email offers, insights, and industry news that can help improve your shipping. You can manage your preferences at any time.

News and Insights to help you ship smarter

Service Updates to alert you to severe weather and events impacting operations

Promotions and Offers to help you get the most for your money

Product News to keep you up-to-date on new services, tools, and features