In 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!
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.
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.
After 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.
Knowing 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.”
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.
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.
Organizing your manufacturing system is one of the keys to success in manufacturing. There are different tools available, although I have the feeling they are often mashed together or confused. Time for a structured overview of the different manufacturing diagrams available, with recommendations. The following post does not give a full explanation on how these visualizations work. Instead, I want to give you a summary of what is out there, so you can pick the right tool to improve your system.