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Identifying Waste in a Value Stream Map

When analyzing value streams, you’re trying to root out inefficiencies — in other words, you’re figuring out what doesn’t add value, or is wasteful.

Identify sources of waste

When analyzing future-state value stream maps, you need to ensure all waste is removed because these maps are meant to provide strategic direction for future improvements and for measuring performance. If anything is wasted, these predictions may be off.

So when developing a future-state value stream map, you first identify sources of waste highlighted in the current-state map. Then you identify process blocks — areas where bottlenecks are occurring — and try to balance the production line.

5 Whys

Once you’ve identified waste, use the 5 Whys process — asking five “why” questions — to help determine its root cause.

For instance, say an operator spends ten minutes gathering required components, you could ask them why it took so long. Perhaps they explain that the stock is kept in a separate room in five different boxes. So you ask why it’s in so many boxes. And so on until you get to the source of the problem.
Consider the types of waste you encounter.

Why excess motion?

Excess motion, for one, is unnecessary movement and time spent walking around. For example, in a home theater system assembly line, workers may make several trips to collect components. A way to combat this motion waste is to put the components closer to the workers and giving them a trolley to collect a bunch at once.