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Value Stream Mapping

Blog posts and articles about using Value Stream Mapping methods to understand and improve a process.

Did you know the most popular diamond cut is probably the Round Brilliant Cut? The first early version of what would become the modern Round Brilliant Diamond Cut was introduced by an Italian named Vincent Peruzzi, sometime in the late 17th century.  In the early 1900s, the angles for an "ideal" diamond cut were designed by Marcel Tolkowsky. Minor changes have been made since then, but the angles... Continue Reading
Ahoy, matey! Ye’ve come to the right place to learn about Value Stream Maps (VSM).  Just as a treasure map can lead a band o’ pirates to buried treasures, so too can the VSM lead a process improvement bilge rat to the loot buried deep inside a process! Minitab’s Quality Companion has an easy-to-use VSM tool to guide yer way. Use a value stream map to illustrate the flow of materials... Continue Reading

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This week is the annual Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, a period where we are encouraged to eat turkey and cranberries, then consider the blessings in our lives before falling into a comfortable pre-football nap. That includes many of us here at Minitab.  Consequently, we won't have new posts for you over the next two days.  But one of the things I'm grateful for is having had the... Continue Reading
Here's a shocking finding from the most recent ASQ Global State of Quality report: The higher you rise in your organization's leadership, the less often you receive reports about quality metrics. Only 2% of senior executives get daily quality reports, compared to 33% of front-line staff members.   A quarter of the senior executives reported getting quality metrics on a monthly basis, at least. But... Continue Reading
I had the opportunity to speak with a great group of students from the New Jersey Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology—a summer program for high-achieving high school students. Students in the program complete a set of challenging courses while working in small groups on real-world research and design projects that relate to the field of engineering. Governor’s School students... Continue Reading
In looking for the answer to an unrelated quality improvement question the other day, I ran across a blog post that answers a question I'd had for a while: what's the origin of the value stream map?  A value stream map (VSM) is a key tool in many quality improvement projects, especially those using Lean. The value stream is the collection of all of the activities, both value-added and non-value... Continue Reading
The DMAIC methodology for completing quality improvement projects divides project work into five phases: define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. It’s also probably the most well-known and most used project methodology for projects that focus on improving an existing process. (Many other methodologies exist, such as DMADV, which focuses on using quality improvement techniques to create a... Continue Reading
Normally, I tell you about ways to practice with Minitab Statistical Software so that you can boost your confidence with statistical analysis. But over the last few days in my house, we’ve been planning some activities for the family. That planning has given me a chance to have some fun with Quality Companion. Quality Companion is a substantial piece of software: everything that you need to manage... Continue Reading
While value stream mapping, or VSM, is a key tool used in many Lean Six Sigma projects for manufacturing, it’s also widely used in healthcare. Value stream mapping can help you map, visualize, and understand the flow of patients, materials (e.g., bags of screened blood or plasma), and information. The “value stream” is all of the actions required to complete a particular process, and the goal of... Continue Reading
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving or other major holidays at work? Maybe you have a potluck lunch a few days before the actual event, with your department or team? At Minitab Inc. we celebrate Turkey Day with our annual “Minitab Thanksgiving” potluck lunch. But this just isn’t any old potluck—it’s like a potluck lunch on steroids! Employees volunteer weeks in advance to the plan the event, which needs... Continue Reading
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year? A few Lean tactics for eliminating waste might help you create a memorable dinner that not only tastes good, but also helps you optimize time spent in the kitchen. Here are my tips for a lean Thanksgiving (but note that I’m not talking about cutting any calories here!):1. Eliminate the waste of overproduction by having a guest count. I know it’s in the back... Continue Reading
I should begin this blog by saying that I originally thought that a kanban was a just a new type of move used while dancing the Can-Can, but I already used that joke for the poka yoke blog. Instead, I’ll spare you and jump right into things! So, what is a kanban? A kanban is a quality improvement method that can help regulate the production flow in the value stream. I like to think of it as a... Continue Reading
NASA launched its final space shuttle mission last Friday morning with Atlantis’ last journey to the International Space Station. Do the fiery orange flames lifting the shuttle into the sky remind you of anything on a lean value stream map? I thought they looked strikingly similar to a kaizen burst! So in honor of NASA's last mission, I think the comparison makes for a good opportunity to... Continue Reading
Lean Six Sigma manufacturing techniques exist to eliminate waste in a company’s processes. One area of wasteful behavior can occur in the transportation of materials from one process line to another—at any stage in the product’s development. Even the transportation of raw materials to your factory can be made leaner, but most times this element is out of your company’s control. However, you can... Continue Reading
Because I’m constantly surrounded by Lean Six Sigma methodology, value stream mapping, and endless bounds of quality tools, I can’t help but bring these ways of thinking into my everyday life. Gas is expensive! I’m always thinking of ways to streamline my trips when I run errands. While I would love to go to Starbucks and have my iced coffee to enjoy while I go from place-to-place—it is... Continue Reading
Value stream mapping is a tremendously valuable tool for improving a process, but it requires patience and careful attention to details.  In an earlier post, I shared some value stream map guidelines to help ensure that the energy you invest pays off.  Here are some additional items to consider.   Identify critical paths and bottlenecks.Your map may reveal a number of potential areas... Continue Reading
Value stream mapping is a cornerstone of the Lean process improvement methodology, and also is a recognized tool used in Six Sigma. A value stream map illustrates the flow of materials and information as a product or service moves through a process. Creating a “current state” value stream map can help you identify waste and also makes it easier to envision an improved state for process in the... Continue Reading