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Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping allows you to visualize your manufacturing process and information flows. It is often the first step in identifying waste and opportunities to streamline processes and reduce lead times.

Value stream mapping generally involves four steps:

  1. Identify the product value stream to map
  2. Develop the current state map of materials, processes and flow of information
  3. Diagnose problems, identify opportunities for improvement and define a future state
  4. Implement improvements

One of the key aspects of value stream mapping in manufacturing is that it involves cross-functional teams. This helps build teamwork, boosts morale, and helps ensure all vital areas are accounted for. This can be particularly impactful when different areas of the company provide different feedback about key considerations such as:

  • Biggest "bang for the buck"
  • Largest reduction in lead time or inventory
  • Biggest impact to the customer
  • Highest probability for success
  • Most visible to stakeholders
  • New product or service lines
  • Volume or quantity

Value stream mapping also becomes the basis for applying other lean tools and concepts like continuous flow, kanban, and setup reduction that can be used to generate process improvements in the future state. It offers a shared roadmap across the organization that aligns your team around a common plan for process improvement.

example of a value stream map


Multiracial workers in factory at machine control panel
Credit: iStock/kali9

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For General Information

  • MEP Headquarters
    (301) 975-5020
    100 Bureau Drive, M/S 4800
    Gaithersburg, MD 20899-4800
Created February 24, 2022, Updated May 22, 2024