Category Archives: Visualization

Posts about visualization in lean manufacturing. Actually seeing things (rather than just getting some data sheets) is a key part of lean manufacturing.

How to Use an Andon – and How Not To

One Station Andon CordIn my last post, All About Andon, I detailed how the mechanical side of an Andon signaling system works, including Andon cords, buttons, and boards. In the Western world, the mechanical side of an Andon system usually works pretty well. However, in most cases, the usage of the Andon is poor to nonexistent. Hence, in this post I tell you how to actually work with an Andon, and then I will give you a rant why  companies so often mess it up! Continue reading How to Use an Andon – and How Not To

All About Andon

Andon paper lantern
A light in the darkness, guiding you toward efficiency…

Andons are systems to alert operators and managers about current problems in manufacturing. The system automates the information flow in case of problems. An Andon system usually consists of the actual Andon, sometimes called an Andon board. Often, additional input and output devices are possible, the most famous being probably the Andon line, a cord that can be pulled to alert others about a problem. In a second post I will talk about How to Use an Andon – and How Not To. Continue reading All About Andon

All About Swim Lane Diagrams

Swimming lanes
All About swim lane diagrams

In my previous posts I described the details of value stream mapping. However, value stream mapping works only for highly linear material and information flows. Unfortunately, many industry processes, especially in administrative or indirect areas, are all but highly linear. To visualize these processes, a new diagram was developed – the swim lane diagram. In this post I will show you how swim lane diagrams work. Continue reading All About Swim Lane Diagrams

All About Spaghetti Diagrams

Eating Spaghetti
Working hard on that diagram …

A spaghetti diagram is a quick and easy way to track distances of parts and people on the shop floor. The name comes from the result looking like a plate of spaghetti. In this post I will explain the details and give some tips and tricks on how to make a good spaghetti diagram. Continue reading All About Spaghetti Diagrams

Practical Tips for Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping TipsAfter discussing when to do value stream maps, the symbols, and the basics of value stream mapping, I want to give some more practical tips for value stream mapping. What tools should you use? Do you use a computer (yuck) or a pen and paper (yup)? I’ll also summarize some generally helpful hints in drawing a value stream. Continue reading Practical Tips for Value Stream Mapping

Basics of Value Stream Maps

Guy with MapKnowing the symbols for value stream mapping is only a first step.  This is like the difference between knowing the alphabet and writing good stories. There are much more things to consider for generating a good value stream. In this post I will go through the basics of drawing value stream maps. I found it surprising how much detail there is to what in literature is often simply abbreviated to “go out and draw it.” Continue reading Basics of Value Stream Maps

Overview of Value Stream Mapping Symbols

Speed Limit Signs
Different symbols for the same thing …

Value stream maps are usually drawn using standardized symbols…or that is what most people believe. While there are some symbols that are used pretty much universally, other elements have different symbols in different organizations or by different sources. Other identical symbols are used in a different way by different organizations. And, every day people seem to invent new symbols. In this post I will (try to) give an overview of what is out there, along with my opinion on what I use frequently and what I usually avoid. Continue reading Overview of Value Stream Mapping Symbols

When to Do Value Stream Maps (and When Not!)

Futuristic Astronaut Businessman Using Flexible Display Tablet
Why to do value stream maps

Value stream mapping is a method to create a structured image of the material and information flow on the shop floor. You often hear that a value stream map should be the first and last thing to do during a lean project. It sometimes sounds like all you need is VSM and Kaizen and you are on the road to success. This is bollocks! While value stream mapping is sometimes quite useful, it is not a universal tool. Continue reading When to Do Value Stream Maps (and When Not!)