Map your future

By Richard Kunst   

Industry Operations Manufacturing maintenance manufacturing

How Deming’s PDCA and the value stream gets you there.

[CLICK TO ENLARGE] Value stream mapping employs standard symbols. Knowledge of these symbols is essential to correctly interpret production system problems. ILLUSTRATION: DANIEL PENFIELD

[CLICK TO ENLARGE] Value stream mapping employs standard symbols. Knowledge of these symbols is essential to correctly interpret production system problems. ILLUSTRATION: DANIEL PENFIELD

Many manufacturers subscribe to value stream mapping (VSM) as an opportunity to “learn to see” waste within their processes, but it seems the tool is an initiative rather than a solid (yearly, at least) management practice conducted. Also, many organizations use the Deming cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act or PDCA) formally or informally.

Both are great management techniques. By changing the order of the Deming cycle to Check, Act, Plan, Do (CAPD) and imposing it upon your VSM your organization will reap significant benefits.

CHECK. As you draw your “current” state map, walk the value stream and if you can’t see, feel touch, taste or smell the evidence, what you’re being told is just a story. Folks are usually afraid to be honest about the gremlins that have invaded the value stream. Constantly check the current state against your control plans and/or the original quoted process plan a product or service.

In one organization the check phase was used to monitor specific metrics annually to see if initiatives were actually delivering the desired results. For example, the daily monitoring and recording of scrap generation was abandoned, focusing instead on the annual VSM exercise as the review point. Using other techniques, team members would quickly identify when a deviation in process began to generate scrap above the norm. After calculating the time being spent monitoring and inputting daily scrap data, it was evident the equivalent of 14 people could be diverted to scrap reduction and yield improvement.


ACT.As you conclude your current state and you have a list of deviations based on your control plan, it’s time to act! If customer requirements have crept into your value stream as changes, review the cost impact. Will the customer pay for the requested changes? Does the customer see the changes as truly adding value? Also remove intermittent changes that may have allowed non-value add activities to creep into the value stream. This is also a good time to compare your current state map to your costing model to ensure they are in sync.

When leaning out a process, immediately assign personnel to other activities such as 5S or set-up reduction. If your process change isn’t working, parachute the resource back into the process without impacting customer needs.

PLAN. Create a future state map that can be completed and implemented within the next 12 months with existing or justifiably acquired resources. Inspire the mapping team by introducing them to the 50% rule: reduce inventory by 50% within the value stream, reduce the distance travelled by the goods, services and team members by 50% and improve your through-put yield by 50%.

Creating the ultimate state should involve others within the organization. Start with how to reduce process steps or the part count by 50% without impacting value to the customer. This will require significant involvement from engineering in product design and potentially the introduction of increased automation. Spend time focusing on standardization across various product lines that will allow you to run a higher volume of mix model combinations.

Let the creative minds wander. You could end up with a design that’s a game changer.

DO. Harnessing time and resources is a challenge. Leaders need to reinforce discipline and accountability against a strong project management infrastructure. If planning is balanced each month’s bottom line should improve with additional cash as projects are completed.

Include a visit to the gemba so you and your team can feel, touch, taste and smell the improvements being made.

Some final thoughts: a current state map without a future state map is a waste of time since you’re accepting what’s currently happening without a desire to improve. A future state map without an ultimate state map is accepting mediocrity. And a budget or annual operating plan not supported with VSMs is just a wish. The goal must be to create a unified, structured approach to improvement with incremental milestones.

Richard Kunst is president and CEO of Cambridge, Ont.-based Kunst Solutions Corp., which helps companies develop evolutionary management and implement lean solutions.


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