Inside Dental Technology
March 2013
Volume 4, Issue 3

Value Stream Mapping

A smart business move

By Chuck Yenkner and Bob Yenkner

Making more money is always a good idea—especially if it can be done on a low-cost/no-cost basis. The difficulty is getting your team to take a fresh look at any given process. More often than not, laboratories struggle with a methodology that produces definitive and sustainable change.

Value Stream Mapping is a methodology that produces definitive and sustainable change. It is easily learned and can become part of the culture of improvement in relatively short order. A Value Stream is the set of all actions (both value-added and non-value added) required to bring a specific product or service from raw material through to the customer.

• Why implement Value Stream Mapping? There are a number of excellent reasons:
• It helps identify waste in the current system.
• It helps visualize the product flow and understand the information flow.
• It forms the foundation for creating a “Lean” production system.
• It provides a common understanding of the current state and commitment to the future state vision.

A Value Stream Mapping event is a complete turnkey training and implementation engagement with a small team of selected associates from the selected process. The event is configured to minimize the impact on the working hours in the laboratory, but typically requires a half-day for training and the equivalent of 2.5 days for the project. (Actual timing and scheduling is part of the event planning.) The training consists of teaching participants basic Lean principles, Value Stream Mapping techniques, and the specific tools that will be used in the improvement effort. After the completion of the event, the team is responsible for implementing the improvement objectives in a priority that fits the business needs.

Value Stream Mapping typically shows that 80% to 90% of total steps within the production process are waste from the standpoint of the end customer. Just as scary is the realization that 92% to 95% of cycle time is wasted time as well. Those readers just getting familiar with Lean concepts may look at these percentages with some skepticism—however, there are a multitude of Value Stream Map examples that will support these results.

A recently completed Value Stream Mapping event that focused on identifying actions that would reduce the lead-time on a porcelain-fused-to-metal cut the production process by 25%. The team looked at the details that made up the current process and quickly observed a number of problems, such as defects due to occlusion and margin issues; excessive wait time where no work is performed; excessive number of trays on the floor; and no root cause analysis to eliminate rework.

The team identified and prioritized 18 action items to address the problems and delivered a 50% reduction in lead-time. The major focus was on the elimination of wait time, eliminating reasons for defects, and increasing technician value-add time. Encourage your team to take a fresh look at your processes and drive definitive and sustainable change.

Chuck Yenkner and Bob Yenkner work together to help dental laboratories and dental businesses of all types grow sales and profits. For information about the Value Stream Mapping event, they can be reached at www.growyourdentalbiz.com.

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