Obtaining operational excellence. Sometimes it seems an impossible goal, as competitive interests and hazardous markets create seemingly insurmountable obstacles. However, the continuous improvement, education and a drive to excel needed for success require that operational excellence be kept as a fundamental goal. Lean thinking continues to dominate schools of thought dedicated to achieving that goal, offering a comprehensive set of tools, best practices, concepts and strategies designed to effectively address any manufacturing organization's needs and eliminate waste that is reducing their efficiency.
Value stream mapping is a technique for analyzing the procedural flow of materials along a manufacturing line from initial stages to delivery. By mapping this flow, it becomes possible to determine how to refine the current state of the line to the point where continuous flow of materials to completion and delivery is as efficient as it can be. By detailing the activities involved and representing them as a value stream, waste can be identified and operations streamlined. Effective value stream maps are often taken on the floor, closest to the processes represented by the map. Logistical representations of those processes need to be properly conveyed through the map itself, and as such it is incredibly important to be as accurately and realistically descriptive as possible. When it comes time to use the map for planning strategies, it can be utilized in several capacities. One strategy calls for each aspect of the line that is represented on the map to be broken down into interchangeable parts that can be moved around in planning stages in order to streamline their placement.
Value stream mapping is one of the many aspects of Six Sigma training, itself a comprehensive set of strategies, techniques and tools for improvement. Concentrating further on the elimination of waste and defects, and minimizing variability in manufacturing results, Six Sigma training prepares an organization for a restructuring of employees and resources into an infrastructure that will help them achieve value targets. By reducing the waste elements present in a manufacturing line, including but not limited to redundancies, excess costs, unnecessary pollution and process cycle time, the six sigma school of thought can help organizations develop a manufacturing line that yields an incredibly reliable, high number of deficit free products. The term itself is a reference to the statistical expectation its strategies advocated, that 99.99999998 success rate.
Learning how to take full advantage of tools like value stream mapping is an integral part of Six Sigma training. Successful advancement of a strategy for operational excellence depends on their proper preparation. Organizers behind Lean initiatives in an organization must undergo the proper training and education so that they can suit their strategies to a specific set of target goals, customized to their situation. Lean manufacturing principles and strategies like Six Sigma are so successful in part because they take advantage of the uniqueness of each organization it is applied to, dedicating resources to bringing out its true potential.