Value Stream Mapping And Six Sigma

Business processes are similar to a river flowing in a natural direction and carrying information from point A to point B. Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is one of the techniques used in Lean Six Sigma for identifying areas of waste that need to be avoided in both manufacturing as well as office business processes. Aside from identifying areas of waste, VSM also helps in streamlining business processes for achieving higher productivity. VSM is based on scientifically proven methods, making it necessary for organization to employ profession Six Sigma consultants (VSM specialists) during the implementation stage.

The Initial Process

Implementing VSM is a long drawn process where the first step involves mapping the current flow of materials or information in key business processes of an organization. The mapping is done with the help of flowcharts that depict the flow of goods or information from one end to another. The flowchart also contains information about the average time taken for the completion of various sub processes. For generating a comprehensive flowchart, consultants often gather inputs from business heads, floor managers or factory workers. While creating the flowchart, key sub-processes are highlighted using specific icons. This helps in pinpointing areas where waste and inconsistencies are happening. The flowchart also helps in understanding the complexity of a business process, which needs to be simplified for increasing efficiency.

Future State Of Value Stream Mapping

In the next step, VSM consultants discuss each step depicted in the flowchart with the management for finding out ways that would streamline and optimize the whole business process. In Six Sigma terminology, this is referred to as Future State Value Stream Mapping (FSVSM). A number of methods can be used during FSVSM process but only those need be selected that help in streamlining processes without affecting the day-to-day operations of an organization. One such method is Cellular Manufacturing, which can be used during FSVSM. Although it is a simple concept, it requires adequate planning on part of the consultants as well as the management. Takt Time is another method that is used for evaluating ‘lead-time’ of manufactured goods or services rendered. This method is commonly used in organizations where the main objective is to deliver goods or services in time, for e.g. courier companies. Another method is known as Kanban, which forms a part of Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing system. It helps in maintaining low inventory levels and work in progress without affecting the quality or volume of manufactured goods.

Effectiveness In Automotive And Other Manufacturing Industries

VSM has proven to be very effective in organizations that make use of large and complex assembly line manufacturing processes. Automobile manufacturing companies are probably the best examples as far as the effectiveness of VSM is concerned. Top automobile companies such as Ford and Toyota have successfully implemented VSM in their business processes, which has in turn helped these companies in manufacturing high quality products while reducing costs at the same time.

Although concepts of VSM are applicable in all types of manufacturing organizations, companies other than automobile companies may find it a little difficult to implement VSM word for word. Some consultants also feel that benefits associated with VSM are sometimes over-hyped when it comes to implementing VSM in non-automotive companies. Personal opinions may vary but what is certain is that VSM does help in reducing waste if implemented properly.

Streaming Media: The New Essential

“We aren’t selling toasters; we are selling exciting products,” David Pryor says in an interview with Automotive News. He’s the Vice President of Marketing, and his exciting products are Porsches. “It’s very hard to communicate that emotion with just text and pictures.”

As a method of delivery rather than a medium itself, streaming media technology distributes audio, video, and multimedia in real time or on demand over the Internet. Unlike earlier online media, streaming media plays instantaneously without any added time and effort to download the entire file. In short, there’s no thinking or technique involved: it just plays.

Streaming media isn’t just for luxury brands, entertainment, or news industries. It has numerous common business applications, including company meetings, distance learning, sales force training, surveillance, video email, product introduction, event broadcasts, news distribution, webcasting and web conferencing.

For example, educational and training opportunities are not confined to classrooms — companies can simultaneously train countless employees around the world. In 2003, the United States Department of Defense did exactly that, streaming 35 hours of training on smallpox vaccinations to 20,000 military healthcare professionals, including medical directors and clinical consultants.

Imagine commercials for your product airing continuously without being interrupted by TV or radio programs. In January 2008, a Research and Markets report on streaming media advertising noted that the marketing size for both streaming audio and video advertising was estimated at $990.3 million in 2006, up 128% over $433 million billed in 2005.

Businesses from every industry with the need for communication are quickly recognizing the value of streaming media, particularly streaming video. IBM notes that streaming video offers businesses “the ability to help dramatically increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their corporate communications efforts — from rich media corporate portal content, to live webcast presentations, to distance education for employees, and more.”

A recent study by AOL’s found that 66% of survey participants view streaming video content at least once a week. These survey participants were at ages of prime consuming power: 44% of video viewers are between the ages of 18 and 34, while 56% are age 35 or older.

Insight Research reports that streaming video and music will grow at a rate of 29% and generate $70 billion over the next six years. Robert Rosenberg, president of Insight Research, concluded “the future of streaming media has never been brighter.”

While streaming video can be viewed by anyone, anytime, anywhere, today’s technology can track all the details. In the Streaming Media Magazine article “Eyes on the Enterprise: Streaming Video’s Marketing Potential,” Steve Vonder Haar writes “the web not only exposes your promotional content to more individuals, it also paves the way for letting you know exactly who spent time reviewing your marketing information.”

By getting to know your audience, you can develop targeted campaigns that establish a bond with consumers. In reference to Porsche’s streaming video on Plum Network, an online cable TV and video on-demand site, Porsche’s David Pryor states “video allows us to create an emotional connection with our consumers. We want it to be as immersive as possible.”

To ensure the success of a streaming video, proper planning must begin before the camera starts rolling. Like traditional video, the quality of streaming video products reflects the skill and equipment employed in production.

Video production specialists know how to capture shots that compress well and translate smoothly when streamed in even the smallest window. Any excessive camera motion techniques, including fast cuts, pans and zooms, reduce the speed and quality of streaming video. Tripods, image stabilization, close-ups and fine-tuned encoding can reduce complications in all connection speeds.

Color and contrast also affect compression. Dark colors can be blended with shadows, and patterns must be refreshed at even the smallest movement. Consequently, solid bright colors and subjects that contrast with their backgrounds allow for optimal video quality.

The running time of streaming video is crucial to its effectiveness. A video designed for distribution or displayed at a tradeshow, for example, is probably too lengthy to be streamed from the web. Such a video should either be re-edited into a shorter version, or split into a series of clips.

An study concluded that the brevity of streaming video might explain why it’s gaining popularity: 66% of survey respondents prefer online advertisements that are shorter than those on television. 15-second spots had 20% higher end play rates compared to 30-second spots.

Whether you have a new product to launch, an event to broadcast, a training session to conduct, or more, streaming media can make it as easy as a single click of the mouse. It’s simple and effective. It’s the way of the future. And in troubled economic times, veteran technology journalist Jacqueline Emigh believes it cannot be ignored: “Against today’s overall backdrop of financial uncertainty, end users’ interest in streaming media stands out vividly.”

Value Stream Mapping VSM FAQs

1. What is Value Stream Mapping?

The Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a simple but powerful Lean technique that is used for visualization and analysis of the flow of materials/ processes and information through mapping. The output of the mapping, value stream maps, provides a picture of the entire work processes, showing both value and non-value adding activities. Instead of taking a haphazard approach to lean implementation, VSM enables a more systematic and sustainable approach. VSM is also sometimes referred to as road-map or blueprint for lean transformations.

VSM looks at the full, end-to-end process pictorially using simple icons. It enables the visualization of how information and materials flow through all of the activities that occur from the time an order is placed, to the time the product or service is delivered. It starts with customer needs, shows how and when information is received, to the end where the product or service is delivered to the customer, as well as information flow and communication processes affect the whole flow.

By looking at the entire end-to-end process, VSM identifies non-value added steps and bottlenecks, thus enabling systematic elimination of these waste. The value stream maps become the baseline for improvement initiatives that eliminate no-value, wasteful activities.

2. What is the history of VSM?

VSM originates from car manufacturer Toyota, where they called it Material and Information Flow Mapping. It was pioneered by Taiichi Ohno, and Shigeo Shingo. However, it was Mike Rother and John Shook who made the technique popular to the world through their book Learning to See: value-stream mapping to create value and eliminate muda.

3. How does Value Stream Map differ from other mapping techniques such as business process mapping, flow charting or layout diagram?

VSM is a pictorial representation of every process in the material and information flow, along with key data. It differs significantly from tools such as business process mapping, flow charting or layout diagrams because it includes information flow as well as material flow. VSM is usually drawn in reverse, from customers up the stream towards suppliers. The need for genuine and real time data collected from the ground is also more important in VSM compare to other mapping techniques for the value stream map to be useful. This is because the actual ground data usually is shockingly different from that was estimated or calculated by the executives who thought they know the data at their finger tips.

4. What are the steps involved in Value Stream Mapping?

Step 1 – Identify the target product, product family, or service.

Step 2 – Draw current state value stream map, which shows the current steps, delays, and information flows required to deliver the target product or service. This may be a production flow (raw materials to consumer) or a design flow (concept to launch

Step 3 – Analyze the current state VSM in terms of creating flow by eliminating waste.

Step 4 – Draw future state VSM.

Step 5 – Implement the future state.

5. Is VSM applicable to non-manufacturing?

Although VSM is often associated with manufacturing operations, it can be used in any industry or environment to identify opportunities for improvement. It has been used with great success in areas such as:
– Service industries such as banking, finance and hospitality,
– Logistics and supply chain,
– Healthcare,
– Maintenance Repair Overhaul operations for automotive, aerospace and marine industries,
– Software and product development.
– Government and military
– Administrative and support functions of organizations such as sales, accounts, customer service and human resource (both manufacturing and service industries).

6. Is it better to use paper-and-pencil or software for value stream mapping?

The goal is to create a map, with minimum delay, while observing the target process in situation. Thus, value stream maps are usually drawn by hand in pencil to keep the mapping process simple and allow for simple and speedy correction. Usage of software at the initial stage of VSM is not recommended. Paper, pencil and post-it tag is recommended from the initial draft through to the completion of the finalized map.

Once the map is confirmed with all the information and data, software tools may be used to digitize for easy storage and formal presentation, although is not a must. Most companies, however, still prefer to leave the value stream maps on their walls in its original form and update it as and when required.

7. How long does it take to learn and master VSM skills?

It about takes 2 days to learn, but a whole life to put to master. There is no short cut to learning and mastering value stream mapping skills, the only way is to keep practicing it!

10 Biggest Automotive Myths

Myth #1: When my brakes squeak it is probably caused by brake dust.

Fact: Brake Dust never causes squeaks.

Brake dust is a natural result of braking caused by the brake pad (or brake shoe) wearing against the rotor (or drum) as you brake. A fraction of the brake pad and rotor wear away with each stop, which is what forms brake dust.

Myth #2: Emission testing is not required where I live, why do I need a catalytic converter?

Fact: Catalytic Converters are required by Federal Law.

If your vehicle came with a catalytic converter on it when it was manufactured, it´s a good rule of thumb it still is required to have one. A catalytic converter is located in the exhaust pipe and its primary function is to remove any unburned air fuel mixture leftover from the combustion process. Besides the benefit of keeping the air cleaner, the catalytic converter is an important part of the information feedback your engine needs to run efficiently. A modern engine samples the exhaust stream to see how efficiently the engine is running and adjusts fuel and timing to compensate.

Myth #3: Cars are so reliable, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”

Fact: This strategy might work in the short term, but over the life of your vehicle it costs less to follow the recommended maintenance schedules.

The reason following the recommended service intervals is less expensive is when a part completely fails it often damages other related or connected parts. It is far better to replace a worn, but still working part, than to wait for the expense of complete failure. Oh, and did I mention parts almost always fail at the worst and most inconvenient times, and often result in a towing charge as well as repairs.

Myth #4: The higher the Octane rating the better the gasoline.

Fact: Use the lowest octane rated gasoline your vehicle manufacturer recommends. (lower octane fuels are less expensive)

Octane rating is defined as the resistance of fuels to detonation (engine knock, or engine ping.) Higher performance engines typically have higher compression ratios and are therefore more prone to detonation, so they require higher octane fuel. A lower performance engine will not generally perform better with high octane fuel, since the compression ratio is fixed by the engine design. If you notice “engine knock” during heavy accelerating such as a long hill or an on-ramp or when pulling a heavy load, change to the next higher octane rated gasoline.

Myth #5: You must have the dealer service your vehicle so you don´t void your warranty.

Fact: By law the dealer cannot require you to maintain or repair your vehicle at their facility.

Where-ever you choose to maintain or repair your vehicle, you must follow the recommended intervals for service the manufacturer requires as outlined in your owner´s manual during the warranty period.

Myth #6: Performance Mufflers are just for kids.

Fact: A free flowing performance Muffler can improve power and gas mileage.

One of the easiest ways to improve the efficiency of an engine is to reduce the restrictions in the exhaust exiting the engine. Larger exhaust pipe diameter and a performance muffler that reduces the restrictions on the exhaust system and lets the engine work easier, especially during heavy acceleration or towing. The benefits are better mileage, more power and reduced engine temperatures. One of the trade-offs is a gain in sound volume of the exhaust, most find this a benefit as well.

Myth #7: Gasoline additives like Techron will keep my engine clean.

Fact: These additives certainly help but the combustion process leaves deposits in your engine especially carbon on valves and injectors.

Each gallon of gasoline contains only a small quantity of these additives. Periodically your engine needs a thorough fuel system cleaning, especially the injectors and valves to remove these deposits and restore efficiency to your engine.

Myth #8: Restarting the engine uses more gas than idling.

Fact: It takes almost no additional fuel to restart a warm engine.

All the new hybrid vehicles are taking advantage of this and shutting down the engine at stop lights. Back when cars had carburetors and were hard to start or flooded regularly there may have been a grain of truth, but no longer.

Myth #9: Oil never wears out, just top it off once in a while.

Fact: Oil, like all other automotive fluids degrade with use and time.

Oil and its additives are designed not only to lubricate but to capture impurities and suspend them in the oil. Most of the bigger particulates are filtered out by the oil filter. It´s actually the additives that make modern oils so effective but also it´s the additives that break down. The dark color of used oil is the captured contaminates that dilute and degrade the oil. Draining the oil and changing the oil filter regularly is the single most effective maintenance you can do for your vehicle to ensure a long life.

Myth #10: Let the engine idle to warm up on cold days.

Fact: Engines run best at their design temperatures.

To get to the ideal temperature sooner, start the engine and drive at moderate speeds. Your engine will be okay, modern oils flow fine in cold weather.