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230 Int. J. Industrial and Systems Engineering, Vol. 8, No.

2, 2011
Copyright 2011 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.

Application of value stream mapping using
simulation to decrease production lead time:
a Malaysian manufacturing case
Alireza Esfandyari*
Technical Faculty,
Institute of Manufacturing Automation and Production Systems
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg,
Egerlandstr. 7-9, Erlangen 91058, Germany
Fax: +49 9131 302528
*Corresponding author
Mohd Rasid Osman and Napsiah Ismail
Faculty of Engineering,
Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering,
Universiti Putra Malaysia,
Selangor 43400 UPM, Malaysia
Fax: +60 3 8656 7122
Farzad Tahriri
Faculty of Engineering,
Center for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM),
University of Malaya (UM),
Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
Abstract: Lean concept has been applied across many companies which offer
value and eliminate wastes. Value stream map (VSM) as one of the
fundamental tools in lean concept outlines the material and information flows
for a product family to reduce wastes at discrete event production routine. In
this paper, the improvement of the production lead time using VSM as a
technique in a Malaysian supplier, with a job shop production system, is
investigated. The main contribution of this paper is reducing production lead
time when the Takt Time is much higher than the highest stations cycle time,
and reducing unplanned released orders. This paper evaluates the present
routing events using current state map and the future state is created answering
the eight standard questions. Then, a detailed simulation model was developed
to verify the result from future state map and answering the questions that are
unable to be addressed by VSM.

Application of value stream mapping 231

Keywords: VSM; value stream mapping; lean manufacturing system;
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Esfandyari, A.,
Osman, M.R., Ismail, N. and Tahriri, F. (2011) Application of value stream
mapping using simulation to decrease production lead time: a Malaysian
manufacturing case, Int. J. Industrial and Systems Engineering, Vol. 8, No. 2,
Biographical notes: Alireza Esfandyari is a PhD Candidate in Production
Systems at the Institute of Manufacturing Automation and Production Systems
(FAPS), Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. He received his MSc in Industrial and
Systems Engineering from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia in 2008.
His professional and research experience spans over the areas of lean
manufacturing system, production logistics, value stream mapping (VSM) and
supply chain management (SCM).
Mohd Rasid Osman is a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and
Manufacturing Engineering at the Universiti Putra Malaysia. He has
professional qualifications from the Board of Engineers Malaysia. He received
his BSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sussex in 1984, and
MSc in Engineering Production from Birmingham University. His research
interest is in the area of manufacturing system and manufacturing management.
Currently, he is seconded to the Malaysian Road Safety Research Institute as a
Research Officer. Currently, he is doing research on safety in road
transportation and quality improvement of driving schools.
Napsiah Ismail is an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Manufacturing
Engineering at the Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia. She received her PhD
in Advanced Manufacturing Technology from the Universiti Teknologi
Malaysia, Malaysia in 2000, and MSc in Mechanical Engineering from the
University of Leeds, UK in 1988. She was appointed as a Head of the
Department, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering from
2003 to 2008. Her research areas are intelligent manufacturing system,
automation and robotics, integration of cad and cam and feature-based
Farzad Tahriri is a PhD Candidate in Industrial and System Engineering at the
University of Malaya (UM). He received his MSc in Industrial and System
Engineering in 2008 at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). His research
interests include robot optimisation and simulation, virtual reality, decision
making and optimisation model.
1 Introduction
In an increasingly competitive world, manufacturing firms are looking for a competitive
edge over their competition and for many manufacturing companies that edge its lean
manufacturing. Implementing the lean manufacturing concept is a difficult process that
requires effort and high understanding of its own philosophy. The basic ideas behind the
lean manufacturing system, which have been practiced for many years in Japan, is often
associated with benefits such as reduced inventory, reduced cycle time, increased quality,
increased flexibility and increased customer satisfaction (Alavi, 2003; Lee-Mortimer,

232 A. Esfandyari et al.

2006; Muthiah and Huang, 2006; Ross and Francis, 2003; Womack and Jones, 2003)
with a consecutive conclusion to eliminate waste. Given the dramatic productivity
increases and what the companies were able to do because of them, it is not hard to
understand why so many companies even in the non-production environment transit
to lean operation.
Lean concept has been investigated in operation sectors for leanness, and business-
oriented sectors for agility (Gore et al., 2009) in managerial- and worker-level stages.
General electric saw an improvement to 100% of on time deliveries (Murman, 2002). In
aerospace, Lockheed Martin obtained large savings on the F-16 project, including a 50%
reduction in floor space and a 6080% improvement in cycle time (Lewis et al., 2000).
All reported results are the consequent application of lean tools and techniques that entail
elimination of wastes and non-value-added activities in a production flow.
One of the most conventional lean tools that provide an insight on value-added
activities including information and material flow is value stream mapping (VSM).
Tremendous efforts have been made so far to examine the advantages of VSM in
healthcare centre (Snyder et al., 2005), equipment breakdown maintenance activities
(BMA) (Sawhney et al., 2009), complex scheduling of bill of materials (Braglia et al.,
2006), production system redesign (Serrano et al., 2008), elimination of excessive
inventory in supply chain (Seth et al., 2008), lead time and cycle time reduction (Seth and
Guptaj, 2005). Investigating the total time/lead time of manufacturing components in
the shop floor is one of the substantial ideas in VSM, beginning with arrival of raw
material to shipment of finished/semi-finished goods to customer. In this paper, VSM is
about elimination of wastes in information and material flow to reduce the production
lead time.
2 Literature review
Lean manufacturing associated with tools and techniques such as cellular manufacturing
(CM), one-piece flow, visual control, kaizen, kanban, production smoothing (Heijunka),
workplace organisation (5S), autonomation, poka-yoke, standardised work, total
productive maintenance (TPM) and VSM to reduce manufacturing waste. VSM is a big
picture that considers all lean tools in a lean transformation, and improves the whole flow
and not just optimising the pieces. These creations make steps to common language for
production process, thus facilitating more thoughtful decisions to improve the value
stream (McDonald et al., 2002). Beside VSM tool, there are other useful redesigning
tools such as process mapping (PM) tool, ICAM definition zero (IDEF0) method and
graphs with results and actions interrelated (GRAI) method (Lasa et al., 2008). However,
VSM was selected as an analysis tool because of its comprehensive inclusion of the entire
informational and material value stream.
Drastic results have been reported that VSM was used to reduce production lead time.
Brunt (2000) presented the reduction in production lead time from 47 and 65 days to 11.5
days, and the reduction of cycle time from 7,262 to 6,902 sec. In the book Learning to
See: Value Stream Mapping to Add Value and Eliminate Muda (Rother and Shook,
1999), two accomplishments in the steel fabrication industry were described. In the first
case at the State Straight Company, the lead time of producing for the steel clamp of
steering arm is decreased from 23.6 to 5 days. In the second case for TWI industries, a
steering arm producer, the lead time improved from 48 days to less than 11 days. Seth

Application of value stream mapping 233

and Guptaj (2005) reported reduction of 3.215 to 0.54 days for production lead time in a
motorcycle manufacturer. In a plastic components manufacturer for automotive, 4 days
reduction is reported from 26 days for production lead time (Lasa et al., 2008). In a diesel
traction-manufacturing firm in India, production lead time was reduced from 53.31 to
4.11 days (Singh and Sharma, 2009). Given the benefits from VSM, there are shortages
and uncertainties associated with this tool make it ambiguous. There is an agreement
between all researchers that the inherent static particular of this tool makes the result
doubtful, but it is still useful for Lean transition. In general, a complementary tool is
needed due to the deficiencies of VSM.
Supporting VSM with statistics and fuzzy algebra (Braglia et al., 2009), detailed
mapping and simulation (Lian and Van Landeghem, 2007), are of enhancement
approaches that were examined. Simulation is an obvious tool, which is capable of
generating resource requirements and performance statistics yet remaining flexible to
specific organisational details. It can be used to handle uncertainty and create dynamic
views of inventory levels, lead-times and machine utilisation for different future state
maps (Abdulmalek and Rajgopal, 2007). Furthermore, following benefits are realised for
using simulation models:
1 For Greenfield:
a simulation as an initiation tool for the lean success (Harrell et al., 2004)
b simulation as a quantitative tool to assess risk of lean performance.
2 For Brownfield:
a simulation as a cost saving and training tool (Lian and Van Landeghem, 2007;
Van Landeghem and Debuf, 1997)
b simulation as an evaluative tool to assess the before and after scenarios in
details and illustrating the potential benefits to managers (Abdulmalek and
Rajgopal, 2007)
c simulation as a predicting tool to justify impact of transformation (Sullivan
et al., 2002)
d simulation as an evaluative tool to assess the impact of the key performance
metrics in a system and answering the questions that cannot be addressed using
the static nature of VSM (McDonald et al., 2002)
e simulation as a monitoring tool for continuous improvement performance.
In this paper, simulation tool was used as a quantitative tool in support of VSM tool to
verify the results from future state map, and answering the questions that are unable to be
addressed using static nature of VSM.
In their book Learning to See: Value Stream Mapping to Add Value and Eliminate Muda
(Rother and Shook, 1999) designed a roadmap to develop the VSM. The roadmap starts
with specifying a core product family. Then, the first design should be done using pencil
and paper to avoid limitations of graphical tools. The VSM is created using a set of

234 A. Esfandyari et al.

predefined icons (McDonald et al., 2002). A current state map for the specified value
stream was developed including a collection of informational and material data. Rother
and Shook (1999) identified eight questions that are answered to draw the future state
map in this paper. These questions are shown in Table 1.
This paper focuses on VSM tool to reduce production lead time for three
reasons. Firstly, associated techniques used to develop the future state of VSM inherently
consider the excess inventory for reduction. Since inventories are implied as the source
of other waste, it is important to level the inventory whereas other waste will be
reduced. Furthermore, inventory and production lead time are the two equivalent factors
which deduction of one factor affects another one to be reduced. Therefore, VSM has
appeared as the preferred way to identify all types of waste and reducing production lead
time for the studied case. Secondly, elements of production lead time are included to
order entry, material accumulation, machine setup, queue, processing, movements and all
activities in whole flow. VSM takes the whole flow viewpoint and addresses each process
and element to investigate for waste. Finally, in most previous research, VSM was
applied in less complex processes with serial steps. In this study, VSM address a job shop
serial production system with complexities such as high inconsistencies of stations
operation time and a flow line, that is, supported by outside suppliers. Furthermore,
available production time in current value flow is much more than production lead time
for a dedicated product family. Therefore, the urgent orders are accepted to be produced
for the rest of working time and these cause complexities to realise the actual production
lead time. In this paper, VSM is then used as an indexing tool to comprehend the
production lead time for a dedicated product family.
Table 1 Questions to create future state map
Future-state questions
1 What is the Takt Time?
2 Will production produce to a finished goods supermarket or directly to shipping?
3 Where can continuous flow be utilised?
4 Where should ABC use a pull system supermarket in the value stream?
5 Which single point in the production chain (the pacemaker process) should ABC
6 How should ABC level the production mix at the pacemaker process?
7 What increment of work (the pitch) will be consistently released to the pacemaker
8 What process improvement will be necessary?
Source: Rother and Shook (1999).

Application of value stream mapping 235

4 Profile of manufacturing firm
The application of production lead time reduction was investigated in a metal-based
fabrication industry with a job shop environment. This small- and medium-sized
company was incorporated in April 1996 and it is one of the suppliers for the Pernec
group of companies (the supplier of telecommunications equipment) in Malaysia. The
real company name referred to as ABC in this paper changed due to confidential issues.
ABC is equipped with various machines and equipments to ensure their production is
on target. This company produces several types of metal fabrications such as cash box,
cabin, back plate indoor and back plate outdoor for public phones. Presently,
Malaysian are using more cell phones, while public phone usage has decreased
significantly. This makes the market of back plate indoor product high competitive for
ABC. The bad order release processing has also made some complexities to distinguish a
precise calculation of production lead time of products. Faced with these challenges, the
ABC Company targeted to distinguish the production lead time for back plate products
and reduce it without incurring additional capital expenses.
However, the back plate product family needs to be identified. Back plate indoor and
back plate outdoor product pass through similar stations and differences are only related
to welded parts dimension and thickness of used steel sheets. So these two products are
identified as a product family. But, at the time of data collection for mapping the value
states, there was no purchasing order for back plates outdoor, so this paper concentrates
on the back plate indoor production flow.
5 Present work
In this section, mapping method using VSM is presented. The current state map is built
through observing the shop floor and analysing the collected data by the main author.
Departments were investigated to get detailed information of current state, while creating
the desired future state map were research and development (R&D), production,
purchasing and store departments.
5.1 VSM: current state map
To collect data for material and information flow, the production line was observed from
downstream to upstream. The goal of mapping the current state is to come up with real
events of informational and material flow of production. Figure 1 shows the VSM at the
ABC Company.
The back plate indoor is passing through three main departments of punching,
bending and welding to be produced. The back plates indoor are formed by assembling
11 parts, namely, the frame, back plate, bracket holder, nut, hinge support, bracket filler
hinge, bracket mounting, bracket filler lock, bracket lower lock and bracket cover lock.
The first four parts are manufactured using the Computer Numerical Control (CNC)
machine. Nuts and other parts which are assembled for brackets are purchased from
outside suppliers.

236 A. Esfandyari et al.

Figure 1 Current state map for back plate indoor at ABC Company (see online version
for colours)
Steel sheets are only ordered when demand is created, since there is no precise record of
raw material, warehouse shortage of steel sheets or semi-product occurs. After assessing
the steel sheets required for the ordered lot size, purchase orders are released to the
supplier company after benchmarking available companies about the minimum price.
Since available production time usually exceeds production lead time of ordered back
plates, urgent orders are accepted without considering ongoing production. This will
result in an unpredicted quantity of work-in-process (WIP) stocks in all workstations.
In the next department, back plates and frames are bended and pushed to the welding
station. In the welding department, parts are assembled. This department contains a set of
three electrodes welding and one gas welding equipment. Back plate indoor, frame and
back plates are welded by gas welding and the brackets are assembled using the electrode
The assembled back plates are then pushed for hard and soft grinding and final
checking. After preparation of ordered lot size, the back plates are carried by lorries to
the venture coating supplier and after two days, the coated back plates are sent back
to ABC for installing the silk screen plate on the top right of back plate indoor.
Each back plate indoor weighs 10 kg, in which over one pallet, 50 units can be
wrapped. The lorries at ABC are capable to carry one to three tons. On average four
pallets in a three-ton lorry are carried to Pernec or venture coating.
According to an order schedule from a customer during the past 104 days, 2,400 units
of back plate were delivered to Pernec. Hence, after deduction of holidays, 38 units of
product were produced per working day. The average daily output is significant for two
reasons. First, it can be used to determine quantity of WIP between the stations. So, all
quantity of WIP should be divided into 38 to calculate the worth of WIP between each
department. Second, Takt Time will be calculated according to average daily output.

Application of value stream mapping 237

Table 2 Units per day at each department
Available time per
shift (sec)
Cycle time
measured by
ABC (sec)
Cycle time
measured by
author (sec)
Units per
shift (Pcs)
Punching 22,680 240 248 91
Bending 28,800 480 430 67
Welding 1 (back plate and
frame assembly)
28,800 360 360 80
Welding 2 (bracket
28,800 180 180 160
Welding 4 (hinges
28,800 30 20 1,440
Welding 3 (bracket and back
plate assembly)
28,800 240 210 137
Grind 1 28,800 60 90 320
Grind 2 28,800 60 60 480
The welding department works in one shift, and the punching and bending machines are
working in two shifts (the second shift always will be engaged for other urgent product
families). Although there are ten working hours per shift, after subtracting break times,
8 hr is the available production time. Table 2 shows the capability of each department to
process the parts at an available production time per shift.
According to Table 2, the units per shift column reveals a great inconsistency with
what is currently produced at ABC compared to the 38 unit back plates which must be
produced per shift based on customer demand. So, it is identified as the average quantity
of excess inventory which is produced in a push system.
The WIP amount is considerable to distinguish the waste amount for non-value-added
time. A current state map shows the 15 days worth of WIP throughout the departments
compare with 1,398 sec of value-added time. It means that the worth of value-added time
is 0.33% of total lead time. This measure indicates affect of a problematic condition of
waste in the value stream of ABC.
5.2 VSM: future state map
Developing the future state map begins with targeting the areas in the current state map
for improvement. There are several issues which should be considered at ABC due to
great inconsistencies with what should truly be applied as a systematic flow line:
1 Undedicated production time to back plate product family (due to the excess of
available production time compared with required production time for satisfying
the demand).
2 Large inventory and WIP.

238 A. Esfandyari et al.

3 Huge differences between production lead time (15 days) and value-added time
(0.048 day).
4 The significant quantity of WIP in welding department due to unplanned release
order of parts in batch amount.
Although the goal of this paper is to concentrate on reduction of production lead time,
consequently the lead time and inventory are two equivalent factors. It means that
controlling inventory explicitly decrease the production lead time.
Developing the future state at ABC involves addressing the following eight questions
as shown in Table 1. The major difference between the current and future state is the
production control strategy, as seen by comparing the current state (Figure 1) with
the future state map (Figure 5).
Question 1: What is the Takt Time?
Takt Time is calculated through dividing 8 hrs available production time by 38 units of
the average daily demand. The result shows that at every 12.63 min one unit of back plate
needs to be completed. Hence, customer demand is met in every 12.63 min for each
Question 2: Will production produce to a finished goods supermarket or directly to
A supermarket is nothing more than a buffer area (space allocated for product storage)
for products that are ready to be shipped, located at the end of the production process
(Rother and shook, 1999).
Currently, ABC produces the back plate indoors and sends them to the shipping area
where they are stored and are ready to be carried to the Venture Coating. Since the
production strategy is based on the push system, all the back plates are kept for a long
time in warehouse before shipping. Two issues are highlighted while determining the
batch sizes at each lot size for back plates. Firstly, the weight that a lorry is able to
carry is limited. A three-ton lorry can carry 300 units with an estimated weight of 10 kg
for each back plate. Therefore, the nominal quantity that can be shipped at each freight is
300 units, but there is limited capacity for Venture Coating supplier to coat the back
plates. Secondly, the order delivery statistics indicate that the supplier response is up to
200 units per each release. In addition, 50 units of back plates can be wrapped in one
pallet. Therefore, four pallets contain of 200 units and this batch is selected as a fix lot
size for shipping.
ABC should design an area between the stations (which will be called supermarket)
and store the parts based on a kanban system. Although using a supermarket before
shipping to Venture Coating prevents extra inventory, using a FIFO technique at this area
will be beneficial due to two reasons. Firstly, there is no other variety at projected
product family in this study, so there is no need to classify the products in supermarket.
In addition, using FIFO helps to maintain flow of production. FIFO works as a channel in
which the welding department locates at the beginning and the Venture Coating supplier
is allocated at the end. If ABC follows the FIFO rule and pitch time (it will be discussed
in Question 7), the excess inventory created in push system will be nominal.

Application of value stream mapping 239

As discussed, the best delivery lot size for shipping is 200 units, so the FIFO channel
is capable to contain 200 units of back plates. Whenever this channel becomes full
product, the orders will not be released any more using kanban to the welding department
(in Question 5, it is answered why the order should be released to the welding
After the coating process at outsourced supplier, ABC receives back the back plates
to install the silk screen plates and doing the finishing process. Finishing process at ABC
entails reworking, time and re-transport waste processes which should be revised for
elimination. in Question 8, it is proposed how to do the revision action.
Question 3: Where can continuous flow be utilised?
The operator-balanced chart in Figure 2 shows the current cycle time at each station for
the product being studied. This chart shows the gap between the Takt Time and the
average balance workload for each workstation. The main reason for such a big
difference is the excess of available production time for a dedicated product family. The
urgent order released usually fills the left working time, and this cause inaccuracy to
distinguish the actual production lead time for studies product family.
Figure 2 shows that ABC Company is potentially capable to produce back plates in
double quantity as they are producing. The potential capability of producing more on
demand products serves two possibilities according to Takt Time calculation. Firstly, it
increases the number of products which could be manufactured, and this decrease the
processing time per unit of product. Secondly, it decreases the Takt Time for the stations
highest cycle time. Then, all stations cycle time should be levelled under the Takt Time.
The second strategy enables the ABC Company to have shorter production lead time
when some other urgent orders can be produced after finishing back plate production.
Takt Time is always determined based on customer orders. In the case that calculated
Takt Time is much bigger than the highest stations cycle time, a virtual Takt Time can
be determined. Also, for the Takt Time is shown in Figure 2, and a virtual Takt Time is
determined in Figure 3.
According to the shown cycle times in Figure 2, it is revealed that it is necessary to
redistribute and level the work piece-load for each workstation. The main problem with
balancing the cycle times is because of the bending station which has the highest cycle
time and should be reduced. At this station, three parts of the frame, back plate and nut
are bent with a number of bending angles of 8, 8 and 2. Although the cycle time for
bending one angle takes 1 sec, but the setting of parts under the fixtures in order to
accurate bending takes 20 sec. The auxiliary setting devices help to easily achieve 15 sec
setting times. In addition, each nut averagely takes 50 sec to be released. If two nuts are
bent per each action of bending instead of one, the average lead time for production of
three nuts at this department will be reduced to 45 sec. To obtain the proposed reduction,
there needs to be more expert workers and auxiliary setting equipment. Eventually, the
cycle time at this department will be deducted from 430 to 285 sec.

240 A. Esfandyari et al.

Figure 2 Current operator-balanced chart
Figure 3 Future operator-balanced chart
The welding department can be improved using the cellular manufacturing (CM)
technique. CM layout will smooth the way for one-piece flow of an incomplete back
plate to the four workstations at a welding department (Figure 3). The cycle times at this
department should be kept alike to prevent excess inventories. In this flow, workers push
one semi-product to the next worker. The advantage of this type of layout keeps operators
in transition. It means that the workers can keep and set the pace of flow visually based
on the determined Takt Time.
Dividing the total cycle time at welding station by Takt Time (680/285) is equal with
(2.38) three labours. This value shows the number of workers needed to fulfil the job at

Application of value stream mapping 241

welding departments in a continuous flow. One worker assembles the frame, back plate
and nut at welding 1, the second worker assembles the brackets at welding 3 and the
brackets and frames will be assembled at welding 2. At the next stage of completion,
back plate indoors are sent to the hard and soft grinding. Grouping this process with
welding cell helps the continuous flow in addition of reducing the transportation and
excess inventory. Then each soft and rough grinding can be done by one worker
continuously. Although redistribution of workloads should be done homogeneously
between each worker, there are still inconsistencies between the cycle times. This can be
improved using Kaizen or time buffer.
In the proposed operator-balanced chart (Figure 3), the virtual Takt Time was
determined based on the stations highest cycle time which is grinding. The 90 sec
checking time at welding 1 should be eliminated in future state map. This activity is pure
waste and can be eliminated easily through implementation of TPM technique. The
workers at welding 2 should process welding the hinges in one piece flow. In addition, if
rough and soft grinding were assigned to one worker, accumulative cycle time would be
still less than virtual Takt Time.
The next area to plan for improvement is before shipping to a Venture Coating
supplier. It was described in Question 2, and how a FIFO technique optimises this area
for excess inventory prevention.
Question 4: Where should ABC use a pull system supermarket in the value stream?
A pull system supermarket is a technique to transit from discrete to continuous flow.
Whenever the productions show disconnect in flow, supermarkets connect the disparate
stream. The supermarkets at the future state map for ABC are placed between the
processes stations where inventory is created and should be controlled based on next
station demand.
Three places are considered to use supermarket. The first supermarket should be
placed before the CNC punching machine, where the daily needed sheets are stocked
here. Since the steel sheets supplier is not yet connected to the ABC via the pull system,
the received steel sheets should be stocked at the main warehouse. Then, daily demanded
sheets are pulled out to the manufacturing area using kanban. Currently, the parts are
punched in big batches for frames or back plates individually but the daily demand for
these parts is 38 units, and each steel sheet is punched for five frames, therefore there are
eight sheets needed per day for the frame. Consequently, another eight steel sheets
are needed to be punched for back plates (16 steel sheets for 38 back plates). Bracket
holders will be produced on the same sheet while frame punching is being finished.
According to the load-levelling technique, after punching each sheet for frames, the next
sheet will be punched for back plates. In this way, the supermarket before bending
machine would be full of parts needed at the next station. The ABC production controller
will tag a withdrawal kanban to the batch of steel sheets, brackets and hinges provided by
suppliers. Whenever this batch feeds into the production line, the tagged kanban will be
removed and dispatched to the production control. Consequently, the production control
records inventory stock and prevent a miss of steel sheets. Currently, the steel sheets are
provided two times per month, which could be reduced to weekly schedule.
The second suitable area for the supermarket is the punching department that
produces four main parts. The parts ready at the supermarket are tagged as a production
kanban. Whenever the bending machine operator pulls the next quantity of parts, he/she
removes the parts and sends the production kanban to the punching machine operator.

242 A. Esfandyari et al.

Then, the CNC machine operator finds out that which parts are on demand at the next
station. Then the operator can change the programming of CNC machine accordingly for
frame or back plate production.
The third place to put the supermarket is before the welding department. The welding
workstation needs to be provided of four main parts: the back plate, frame, bracket and
hinges. Then for each part, one supermarket is allocated. Hinges and brackets are
provided by the outside suppliers. Designing two supermarkets before the welding
department for these parts is necessary to prevent uncertain forecasting, parts missing and
disturbance caused by uncontrolled quantity of excess inventory. The daily delivery of
these parts makes an efficient use of space in addition to regulate the systematic flow in
one day, and another two supermarkets will be placed for a bended frame and back
Question 5: Which single point in the production chain (the pacemaker process) should
ABC schedule?
To stop over production at any workstation in the value stream, only one point in the
supplier to the customer value stream needs to be informed about the final production
output. This point is called the pacemaker process, because this point sets the pace of
production for all the upstream processes and connects the flow of downstream and
upstream flow. Usually, the pacemaker process has the most downstream continuous
flow in the value stream, so there should be no supermarket downstream of the
pacemaker process (Rother and Shook, 1999). For ABC, the welding cell operates
continuously and all supermarkets are located before this station. Then the welding-
assembly cell is selected as the pacemaker, and the preceding workstations pull out the
production information.
Question 6: How should ABC level the production mix at the pacemaker process?
The objective of this question is to distribute the production workload uniformly over the
production time of the pacemaker process. This will allow workstations to handle
balanced jobs and prevent creation of excess inventory and a long-lead time.
Considering that the CNC machine punches each steel sheet into batches of five
frames, back plates or nuts, the style of bending for all these parts is the same, and there
would not be any changeover time for this machine. The consecutive production levelling
at the pacemaker process would be five frames, five nuts and five back plates. The
kanban cards are placed in the Heijunka box based on this sequence. The Heijunka box is
located near the welding cell. The cycle of the kanban system will be commenced by
taking the first kanban card at welding 1. The pace of production at the welding cell is
controlled by a one-piece flow technique and no more cards will be released into the
system when the FIFO channel becomes full.
Question 7: What increment of work (the pitch) will be consistently released to the
pacemaker process?
The pitch is the basic time block of the production schedule for a product family. The
pitch is calculated by multiplying the Takt Time or its coefficient by the finished goods
transfer quantity (e.g. number of containers) at the pacemaker process (Rother and
Shook, 1999). Pitch in this case calculated accordingly is:
Pitch : 285sec(Takt time) 5unit (pack out) 1,425sec(23.75min 24min)

Application of value stream mapping 243

The CNC punching machine will punch each steel sheet into five pieces of frame or back
plates; it has the least quantity to be determined for pack out batch. At every pitch (each
24 min), one production kanban will be dispatched to the welding department. In each
turn, the orders are released in a paced speed and the finished products are stocked at the
FIFO channel, where the pace of production is maintained constant.
The number of kanban card are depend on the daily demand and transfer lot size, and
is shown in Table 3. Timing the release of the kanban cards needs a Heijunka box (load-
levelling box). The Heijunka box (Figure 4) has a column of kanban slots for each pitch
interval and a row of kanban slots for each product type. The kanban cards are placed in
the Heijunka box. The material handler picks a kanban at every pitch and delivers it to
welding 1. Then the worker at welding 1 pulls out the needed raw materials from the
bending department.
Daily demand is divided by the quantity per each transfer (38/5 8). The pitch will
be released eight times to the pacemaker process per working shift. The time interval
required for every manufacturing order is followed by removing one kanban from
Heijunka box and, calculated by dividing the available time in a work shift by the number
of pitches for a back plate indoor (192/8). It means that at each 24 min, one increment of
work will be released to the pacemaker process using one kanban card.
The following steps describe how the paced withdrawal and load-levelling box
will work:
1 Operator at welding 1 checks the Heijunka box and takes K
(first kanban card
at 8:30).
2 This signals the welding 1 worker to pull out the required parts from the
3 Currently, each kanban card identifies the production of five back plates indoor.
The workers at welding 1 pulls out the components of the first five units from
the supermarket and removes the attached kanban card, then sends it to
the bending operator.
4 In a similar manner, welding 3 removes the attached kanban card from the bracket
parts and sends them to the kanban post.
5 The station upstream process commences to pull out needed materials from the
preceding supermarkets.
6 When parts are removed from supermarkets, workstations start to refill them.
7 Repeat of all above steps for available time (currently, 3 hrs for 38 units of on
demanded back plate indoor in one day).
Table 3 Number of required kanban card
Product Daily demand Transfer lot size
Number of kanban
cards required
Back plate indoor 38 5 8

244 A. Esfandyari et al.

Figure 4 The Heijunka box (load-levelling box) (see online version for colours)
Questions 8: What process improvement will be necessary?
To comprehensively accomplish the future state for material and information flow, the
following actions should be carried out:
1 Delegating the program switching of CNC machine to operator.
2 Elimination of checking time at welding 1 that is a pure reworking waste.
3 Checking the production pace at the bending department, and whether operators
follow the specified job cycle time.
4 It is proposed that instead of receiving back the back plates, after the coating process,
the silk screens will be installed by two contracted worker at the Venture Coating.
After receiving the finished product, the products will be sent to the customer
The future state design for ABC is shown in Figure 5. The figure illustrates all
information and material flow, and proposed kaizen. It is considerable that the described
future state is planned for production of 38 units for proposed virtual Takt Time in 3 hrs
per working day. The increment production of 38 units in 3 hrs afford two alternatives:
firstly, dedicating complete working time per day to the back plate indoor production and
rerunning the process for the next 3 hr. Secondly, the urgent orders can be satisfied
within the rest of available time. These two alternatives each can be accomplished
Production lead time in the future state map indicates production of 200 units of back
plate indoor in less than nine days. It means that the worth of WIP throughout the ABC
workstation before sending the products to an outside supplier is less than seven days;
also, the 1,363 sec value-added time shows the trade-off value that customer would like
to pay for.
The result from VSM encourages managers to accomplish the future state; however,
it is still insufficient to overcome the resistance of social-technical belief. Furthermore,
the deficiencies due to complexity of production variety (Rother and Shock, 1999), time-
consuming facts (Hines et al., 1998), difficulties in implementation of techniques and
machines (Sullivan et al., 2002) and lack of considering the dynamic behaviour of the
production process (McDonald et al., 2002; Sullivan et al., 2002), cause the inevitable use
of a complementary tool with VSM. Also, predicting the situation of production lead time
elements are usually impossible with only a future state map, because with a static model
one cannot study how these elements affect one another.

Application of value stream mapping 245

Figure 5 Future state map for back plate indoor at ABC Company (see online version
for colours)
Simulation is a scheduler to generate production schedules and to improve the operational
effectiveness in factory floor. In addition, simulation satisfies the inherent shortage of
the VSM tool. It means that simulation is a useful tool to help with what if and short-
term tactical questions that cannot be answered using the VSM tool. These questions can
be answered by making quick changes or assessing the impacts on a simulated system.
This issue explicitly highlights the necessity of associating these two tools as a tool-set.
The following two questions will be answered in Section 6 as short-term tactical
1 How much impact a dynamic nature of simulation would have on calculating the
production lead time compare with the static methodology?
2 One-piece flow technique is proposed for the welding cell to fix the pace of
flow in future state map. Is this technique useful in this area if it is accomplished
6 The simulation model
The simulation model for the proposed future state map was developed using system
modelling corporations Arena 7 package. This simulation model requires approximately
50 hrs of development time. There are two different views of this model. The first is a
facility view which describes the work cells and related resources that make up the
factory. The second is a product view which describes the flow of work through the
facility. Data-related facility view is collected through an over on location of stations and
machines. Also for product view, the product should be described as being produced,
along with the process plan that defines its flow through the factory. The collected data
includes: the quantity of demanded parts by the nest stations, the earliest start date, the

246 A. Esfandyari et al.

due date for completion of a job, the order times for each part by the next stations,
the initial quantity for each part in supermarkets, the cycle time for each operation, the
buying lead time for suppliers, the quantity and the arrival date for parts from outside
suppliers, production and reorder lot sizes for outside suppliers, numbers of worker, and
available working hours.
During the facility view data collection, some features such as setup times and
machine breakdowns are recognised insignificant. Several simplifications made in the
representation of the production line are the purpose of this paper. These features were
not considered in the simulation model: reworking on rejected units, employee breaks
and fluctuations in product demand (quantity). The developed model includes the area
where steel sheets are being prepared behind the CNC punching machine to the stage
which back plate indoor is released from the grinding station. The Venture Coating is
then an outside supplier used up two days. The output lead time from the simulated
model can be added to two days in order to realise the total lead time.
Verification is the process that makes certain that the simulation model follows the
real system (Law and Kelton, 2000). Since this model is rather small with one type of
product in the system, verification will check whether the product follows its sequence or
not. To see if the model represents the real system, the SIMAN code was examined.
Figure 6 illustrates a view of the simulation model representing the production flow.
The Arena model is based on the SIMAN language. Its modelling consists of
two system frames: the model frame and the experiment frame (Kelton et al., 2004).
To simulate the ABC Company, the steps that each back plate indoor parts go through
during the simulation run were traced. Then, a careful trace procedure was carried out by
following an entity and then once it is created until it is dispatched from the system.
The Step feature provided by Arena was used to control the accomplishment of the
Based on the scheduled mapping of the future state map, the planned schedule
indicates production of 38 units of back plate indoor per day. Production of this demand
needs an accumulative production time of 200 min per shift. Therefore, the available
working hours are 200 min for the time pattern introduced to the model. Moreover, the
manufacturing orders and quantities for material arrival modules are provided for
the production of 38 units. The simulation model was run for a complete working shift
starting from 8:30 a.m. and ending at 12:10 a.m. Warm-up periods are useful for systems
that are continuous and do not have a distinct period in which statistics are desired for
that time. The simulation model in this case is scheduled for one shift that is a distinct
period. The supermarkets between the workstations are always full of parts to be
produced and then at the start of the next day workers immediately can pull out the
needed parts from their previous stations. Therefore, a warm up period and transient time
is not required. About 100 replications are used to run the model. The reason for this is
the fact that half wide for the 95% confidence interval of produced back plate indoor
turns out to be 34. To produce the 34 units of product, the half wide would be 0.19. This
value indicates that the absolute error would be 0.55%, which is small enough in order to
verify 34 units of back plate indoor in a day shift.
Figure 7 shows how the units of final product increased across a three hours and
thirty minutes period. The steps in this plot verify the production of one unit of back plate
indoor and the yellow area shows the break time that starts from 10 a.m. and ends at
10:15 a.m.

Application of value stream mapping 247

The simulated model at ABC indicates the production in one working day. The
schedules and manufacturing orders are planned as one-day production and cannot be
extended for more than a one-day replication. To realise the production for more than one
day, 34 units of products should be multiplied to the number of required days. There are
two reasons in doing so. Firstly, the manufacturing order module cannot be accessed for
more than the current schedule because the software is used as a student edition.
Secondly, the production scheduling is accomplished for a one-day period. For the
following days, the scheduling process was repeated, and an extension of planning for
more than one day does not affect the final answer.
In the future state model, it was revealed that 34 units of product will be produced in
a day. It means that in order to ship 200 units of back plate indoor to the Venture Coating
supplier, it takes 5.8 days (6 days). It was also shown that coating the 200 units at this
outside supplier takes two working days. The total lead time for 200 units of back plate
indoor is eight days. The simulation shows the 47% reduction in production lead time and
inventory reduction could be obtained if lean tools and techniques are implemented.
Figure 6 Arena model screen shot (see online version for colours)
Figure 7 Increment of back plate indoor per shift (see online version for colours)

248 A. Esfandyari et al.

The results from the future state of VSM (less than nine days) and simulation (eight days)
indicate less than one day difference. This differentiation is not significant and the future
state simulation verifies the result from the future state map. After the simulation was
developed, the specific questions noted earlier that could not be answered
straightforwardly using VSM are discussed below:
1 How much would be the impact of dynamic nature of simulation for value-added
time compare with the static methodology?
The future state map indicates value-added time of 1,363 sec for 38 units of product. The
factory analysis for simulation shows the value-added time of 1,225 sec for production of
34 units. Using a balanced equation, it shows the value-added time of 1,369 units for
38 units in a dynamic methodology. Thereafter, it can be perceived that the value-added
time for a dynamic nature shows the 0.45% reduction compared with static nature.
2 One-piece flow technique is proposed for welding cell to fix the pace of flow in future
state map. Is this technique useful in this area if it is accomplished correctly?
In factory analysis data sheets for simulation, the average total accumulative time for
weldings 13 are 5.35, 3.98 and 4.6 hrs, respectively. These measurements show the total
operation time that each worker spent to process the parts for the complete working shift.
To prevent WIP and fixing the pace of one-piece flow, these measures should be
balanced. The flow can be improved using a time buffer technique for welding 2 and
reducing operation cycle time at welding 1.
7 Conclusion
The VSM provides structured continuous improvement and it can be used in discrete
production flow. ABC has different problems such as high inconsistency of operation
cycle time for stations and ambiguity of production lead time. VSM is, therefore, a
valuable tool for production lead time investigation. The result from VSM was verified
using simulation. Although there is a consensus for using VSM and simulation as a tool
set, the questions answered using simulation demonstrate the necessity of associating
these two tools. For the main contribution, 47% production lead time reduction deduced.
Furthermore, following benefits of utilising simulation as a complementary tool for VSM
is indisputable: the power of imitate visualising investigates the interaction of production
flow elements, cost and time saving, and it is an instant alter attempt for trial and error for
different scenarios. In addition, setting up the developed model for different scenarios
provide a valuable tool for managers in terms of training for employees and customer,
reliability issues for lean transition, and evidence the practicability of lean operation at
ABC are of managerial implication for associating simulation modelling with VSM.
Several areas can be extended for future research. First, the current work can be
extended for other product families at ABC and how implementation of Lean Concept for
several product families can be synchronised. Another area for future research is to
investigate elimination of wastes at a managerial-level stage. At a managerial-level stage,
behaviours may cause problems that appear as a waste at shop floor. Developing a root-
cause analysis associated with the VSM tool gives more clear understanding to plan the
future state. Strategic behaviours in managerial-level could be evaluated in different
scenarios through simulation.

Application of value stream mapping 249

The authors would like to thank Ir. Rasid Osman for his valuable advice in this research
work and the referees for their suggestions and useful comments that made it possible to
greatly improve the structure and the quality of this paper.
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