Value stream mapping and Kanban as part of lean management

The method of value stream mapping supports lean management by identifying and illustrating all value-adding operations and aligning the entire company with the value stream. This allows resources to be used in a targeted manner and waste to be avoided. A valuable side effect of value stream optimization is a noticeable contribution to sustainability.

The central element of value stream optimization is the flow principle. This emphasizes the importance of processes. The structures must support the processes, not the other way around. Many medium-sized companies fail on this aspect, designing their processes around people and organigrams at best. This is not how value stream optimization succeeds.

Flow also means minimizing buffer stocks. Buffer stocks are justified in decoupling sub-processes. However, the goal should be to better coordinate the sub-processes with each other instead of expanding the pseudo-solution of buffer stocks. This can be achieved by implementing a clear pull principle at all interfaces in the entire business process. The Kanban concept has developed from this idea. Instead of manufacturing according to an overall plan in each process step, it is advisable to manufacture on schedule in each process step in response to short-term demand from the subsequent process element. This increases process quality and delivery reliability, while reducing storage and material handling costs and thus capital commitment.

Of course, this is not achieved at the first attempt, and the development process will never be completed. But the continuous improvement process (kaizen) can bring your organization closer to the optimum step by step. Leadership can be instrumental in consistently implementing the Kanban philosophy.


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