Determining the target condition – Value Stream Design 4.0 by Space Dreamer (Author :M.Temel AYGUN)

VSD 4.0 serves the designing of the target condition for the future order-processing process including the associated information flows. In the first step, the approach comprises the traditional VSD, which aims to bring products into flow in order to achieve short throughput times. In the second step, there is a check of which stations can be further stabilized and designed to contain less waste through digitalization in order to improve or expand the product flow.

Finally, in a third step, the product and information flows are integrated and synchronized. The basic rule is that initially it should be striven for a robust flow based on process stability instead of digitalizing complex and inherently instable processes.

Execution of traditional VSD

Through VSD, a value stream vision is developed that preferably satisfies the previously formulated targets regarding throughput time, quality, productivity, etc. The approach was established following Rother [6], who describes value stream guidelines. The use of these guidelines results in workstations and processes being capable to fulfill a given work content within the scope of customer takt time allowance. Subsequently, adjoining processes can  be linked with one another to create the largest flow areas possible. Within those “islands of flow” a product or order can be further processed without waiting times. If processes cannot be directly linked (e.g. due to setup times  or different cycle times), they need to be decoupled through pull systems (FIFO systems or supermarkets). The authorization of new orders preferably takes place in one place, the so-called pacemaker process.

Digitally improving product flow

If a value stream vision has been developed in this way, implementation projects are defined that develop the current value stream step-bystep towards this vision. Typically, these projects first address traditional wastes. Fundamental projects are the introduction of standard work and the stabilization of quality. Subsequently, projects follow that bring about the improvement of the material flow, e.g. the line balancing of flow lines, the development of flow layouts, or the organization of a pull-material supply.

Subsequently, digital improvement opportunities through the following questions can be checked systematically:

  • Which traditional wastes can be better eliminated through digital measures? Example: The use of flexible pick-by technologies if material trays are too inflexible for zero-defect commissioning.
  • Which wastes in information logistics can be eliminated by a better organization? Example: Figures and their recording are unified for all machines in a group and used in the morning meeting for the target/actual comparison.
  • Which wastes in information logistics should be eliminated through digital measures? Example: The data for machine availability is recorded directly to the machine control instead of a manual transmission to MES.

Finally, there should be a check of which performance characteristics of the formulated busines model can be supported by the digitalization of the order processing.  Example questions could be:

  • How can the flow be further improved by automating manual planning steps that are repeated for every order?
  • At which point do configurators help in automatically translating customer requests into process parameters?
  • How can the product automatically parameterize work stations in order to further decrease setup times and support standard work?
  • Where does it make sense to assign process data to the product and make them available to the customer?

Integrating the product and process information flow

In the last step of VSD 4.0 the information defined, which is needed (product, process, and resource information) at the stations of the new value stream to implement the vision of order processing without waiting times. To start processes at a station without delay, all required information must be available at the beginning of the order. With this goal, the information needs of all processes are assessed and recorded as ”activities” in the process boxes. The same applies to the support processes like work preparation, intralogistics and maintenance.

Linking of information sources  and storage media

Based on the definition of future informational needs, suitable storage media are defined in cooperation with production-oriented IT and inscribed in the value stream map with the respective horizontal lines. Through vertical lines and the placement of points, a clear and standardized assignment of information sources to storage media takes place. For example, in this step it can be determined that, in the future, all quantity reports are automatically collected in MES. To show this, a vertical line from the data point “quantity” is drawn to the line of the storage medium MES and connected with a point.

In this final step, all activities that use available information are attached by dashed lines. For example, it is determined that the output quantity of every station available in MES is discussed daily in the course of shop floor management in order to recognize deviations and initiate improvements. From data point “quantity”, a dashed line is therefore drawn to the horizontal line of shop floor management and also connected with a point.     

Example application of VSD 4.0

For the already exemplarily observed value stream of the special machine manufacturer, the objective of value stream design is to significantly reduce the cycle-time whilst offering simultaneously high flexibility in the configuration for sales and customers. This is essentially achieved through

  • consistent digitalization of information sharing from the customer all the way to the machines
  • a drastic reduction in manual process steps and the associated processing time (from 6.5 h to 15 min)
  • a reduction of storage media (from 12 to 7) and media disruptions

The new process in detail

On the customer side, an online configurator was implemented that depicts the solution spaces possible in production in the dimensions categories, materials, and measurements. In this way, it is possible for the customer to configure and order the product without further communication with sales or development. The product data generated through the configurator is automatically transmitted to a parameterizable CNC code generator. The new CNC program arrives directly at the machine through the Distributed Numerical Control (DNC).

Until now, the order authorization took place through a push principle. The foreman planed the sequence of the orders according to demand and his own judgement (Go-and-see planning). In the course of VSD 4.0, strict FIFO pull processing now takes place (Fig. 20).

In order to stabilize and further improve the new processes, the figures delivery performance and capacity utilization are discussed in future daily shop floor meetings. In the event of deviations the PDCA cycle is started.


Kadıköy, İstanbul – TURKEY

M. Temel AYGÜN, Ph. D. in Aerospace Eng.

Copyright belongs to author.

Execution of the Value Stream Analysis 4 by Space Dreamer -10-

Author : M.Temel AYGUN

Starting the project & defining added value

Before the start of the project, the product or product family is determined, which is going to be analyzed. A product family is a group of products that occupies the same or similar resources in production and order processing. The VSA 4.0 is carried out for the entire order processing process. Therefore, the project team must also be assembled cross-departmentally. Employees from marketing, sales and adjustment development should especially be integrated.

At the beginning it should be clarified which product characteristics are especially important for customers and how they are created today. This helps refine one’s awareness for non-value-adding activities in the VSA. At the same time it is to define, what the value stream has to accomplish in the future in order to establish a striving competitive advantage (e.g. “…we deliver faster than…”, “…free product configuration…”) and to realize the planned business model. Then a clear target should be set by management which KPIs should be improved for the selected product group (e.g. reduce order throughput time to X days, reduce First Time Failure Rate to Y ppm, etc.) to achieve the desired competitive advantage. This makes it easier for the project team to prioritize improvement opportunities. In this way, improvement ideas can already be thought up by the team during the analysis phase to shape the future state vision.

Analyze the current state –  Value Stream Analysis 4.0

The traditional VSA initially creates an overarching understanding of the value stream for all involved. The result is a value stream representation with visualized areas of potential, the  Kaizen flashes. The familiar process boxes from the VSA are first extended upon in the VSA 4.0 in such a way that the collected information sources can be represented in extended notation. The type of data collection is characterized by the collection interval and its type of recording. At the same time, the respective current value is determined and inscribed in the process box. This notation should be used as uniformly as possible across all processes.

Understanding and incorporating storage media for information

To make the handling of data and information transparent, horizontal lines for each used storage medium are now delineated on the value stream map below the process boxes. Examples of storage media are paper, ERP systems, MES or MS Excel®, as well as the employees themselves. Next step is the analysis and representation of the information flows from the sources to the storage media. Therefore, information sources are affiliated with the associated storage media through vertical lines and nodal points.   

Analyzing the use of information

Subsequently, there is a review of which applications the collected information is used for, e.g. in quality management, for order control, or for shop floor management. For every type of usage, just like for storage media, horizontal lines are inscribed. Information sources, in turn, are subsequently affiliated with the applications through vertical (in this case, dashed) lines and points. Here it already becomes evident as to which collected information will not be used or will be used differently than intended.    

Recording wastes in information logistics In this step, the already introduced wastes in information logistics are recorded for all processes and inscribed as Kaizen flashes. Furthermore, the observed level of waste in dealing with information can be quantified by means of figures. As an example, here three figures are specified:

  • Data availability: It answers the question what percentage of necessary information/figures is actually being recorded.
  • Data usage: It shows what percentage of the recorded information sources is actually subsequently used.
  • Digitalization rate: It discloses what percentage of the recorded information sources is digitally recorded.

These figures can be calculated for a single workstation, a line or the entire order throughput.

Example application of VSA 4.0

The example shows a portion of the value stream of a special machine manufacturer, which extends from customer contact all the way to production (Fig. 17). Though products are individually adjusted in size and material depending on the customer’s application the order-specific information processing (customer clarification, adaptation of drawing, CNC programming) is basically the same for every customer project. The programming time for an order amounts to approx. 30 minutes and ultimately represents an implementation of the customer’s desired product parameters in a CNC code.

The following wastes arise from the traditional value stream analysis:

  • Frequent questions from construction to sales
  • Machine downtime during programming
  • Rejects due to programming errors

The application of VSA 4.0 provides further insights:

  • To exchange data and information, twelve different storage media are necessary (number of horizontal lines).
  • The high number of nodal points on the vertical lines of the data exchange indicates that process steps use several storage media for the same information.

Additional wastes arise from this, e.g.:

  • Employees must transmit information from different systems and with different formats by hand.
  • Media disruptions hinder the smooth flow of information and extend the processing time.

The figures confirm the findings and demonstrate additional potential for improvement: 

  • The data availability of the key performance indicators desired by management, such as processing time, quantity, etc. is 0 % for all processes.
  • None of the recorded information is being used in order to push forward an improvement of the value stream (undermost horizontal line). The data usage figure is therefore 0 %.
  • The digitalization rate in the value stream is  0 %, since paper is the storage medium used in different forms for every exchange of information.

Quick order processing through the synchronization of information flows

The traditional VSD aims to reduce the throughput time of a product by eliminating non-valueadding activities. Information is considered mainly from the process control perspective. This doesn’t sufficiently take into account the comprehensive, new opportunities for the use of information through digitalization and networking. Companies in mechanical engineering must consider further information flows beside the information for process control in order to be able to supply customers quickly and flexibly, improve processes, and increase the customer value through information-based services. Four information flows can be recognized that must mesh together in synchronization:

The product flow represents the physical flow of material. In production, this coincides with the product information flow (see below), partly from the flow of suppliers.

The utilities flow controls the provision and transport of necessary operating and auxiliary materials for the execution of an order.

The process information flow comprises information about the condition of production and all supporting processes (like processing time, force, temperature, pressure, etc.).

The product information flow comprises all information about the product. It begins with the customer but leads through development (e.g. drafting of drawing) and work preparation (e.g. programs, work plans) all the way to logistics, production and to the customer.

If one of the four information flows comes to a halt or is not synchronized with the other flows, delays can result due to waiting times. In order to avoid this, a synchronization of these information flows should be ensured. This is especially demanding in production, as all four flows encounter one another here. At a workstation, the work and testing instructions must be available at the same time as the physical product, the tools, fixtures and measurement devices, and the necessary process parameters configured. In addition, the customer is to be linked to the in-house information flows in order to accelerate order clarification, adaptation development and work preparation, but also to receive product information from the usage phase.  

See you in next blog with the following topics :

  • Determining the target condition –  Value Stream Design 4.0
  • Digitally improving product flow
  • The new process in detail


Kadıköy, İstanbul – TURKEY

M. Temel AYGÜN, Ph. D. in Aerospace Eng.

Copyright belongs to Author.