Lean

Spaghetti as an Improvement Tool

By October 2, 2015 No Comments

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Recently, we were asked by a client to provide more detailed instruction around spaghetti mapping.  If this is a new term for you, rest assured that spaghetti mapping does not involve throwing wet noodles at a wall to see what sticks.  It is a lean tool that helps you to visually see a process in action and glean from that picture, improvements that can be made to the flow.  Here is a short primer we put together.  Divertiti! (Enjoy!)

Spaghetti Mapping

Spaghetti maps are a visual representation of a process in action and show the “actual” work flow over a period of time.

Spaghetti maps can be used to determine:

  • Bottlenecks
  • Motion waste
  • Transportation waste

Spaghetti maps are used to track:

  •   Product Flow
  •   Paper Flow
  •   People Flow

Spaghetti mapping is often done as part of a 5S exercise to look at an area before “set in order” to determine optimum placement for items needed every day in the workplace.

Spaghetti mapping can also be used to optimize the flow of equipment or materials through a process.

It is best to spaghetti map the process before and after the change to see how the improvements made impacted the process.

Creating a Spaghetti Diagram should be done with or by the operators or those that use the process.

DETERMINING WHAT TO MAP AND HOW LONG TO MAP:

  • Why are you mapping? There are an infinite number of reasons to map, and you should customize your mapping to answer your specific questions about a process
    • If you are wanting to improve the set of tools used daily by a person in the workplace, then map the person doing their job
    • If you are wanting to improve forklift safety, you might map the forklift travel route vs. pedestrian travel route over a time period
    • If you are wanting to reduce process time in a paper process, map the process that the paper follows through the building
  • Is the process you are mapping discrete or continuous?
    • For discrete processes that have a defined start and end, map the process from start to end
    • For continuous processes, determine a time frame that best represents the process

SUPPLIES NEEDED TO GET STARTED:

  • Overhead views of area, drawn close to scale and labeled
  • Colored Pencils (one color for each flow being tracked)
  • Step counter
  • Stop Watch
  • Team, Operators, People impacted by the flow
  • Actual Process

 STEPS – Discrete Process:

  1. Record the process name, person being observed, date, and time period you will be mapping.
  2. If you are mapping a discrete process, record and number the process steps on the side
  3. Start at the beginning of the process and label it as the “start”
  4. Draw a line from the start to the next part of the map based on what you observe
  5. If you are mapping a discrete process, recording the corresponding process step number next to the line
  6. Do not leave out any flow movement, even if the paper gets cluttered with lines. This is opportunity and it is important to capture it.
  7. For discrete flow process, time the process from start to finish
  8. For people flow, ask the person to wear a step counter and record the number of steps taken during the process mapping.
  9. For material flow or paper flow, walk the process and determine step counts between moves.
  10. If processes are different at different times of the day or with different products, you may want to create multiple process maps to view the different variables.

 STEPS – Continuous Process:

  1. Record the process name, person being observed, date, and time period you will be mapping.
  2. Start at the beginning of the process and label it as the “start”
  3. Draw a line from the start to the next part of the map based on what you observe
  4. If you are mapping a continuous process, number the line and on the side of the paper, write the activity related to the movement
  5. Do not leave out any flow movement, even if the paper gets cluttered with lines. This is opportunity and it is important to capture it.
  6. Record all flow that occurs within your predefined time period for continuous flow processes
  7. For people flow, ask the person to wear a step counter and record the number of steps taken during the process mapping.
  8. For material flow or paper flow, walk the process and determine step counts between moves.
  9. If processes are different at different times of the day or with different products, you may want to create multiple process maps to view the different variables.

Operator Flow EXAMPLE:

BEFORE

Operator traveled 3580 steps in 20 minutes to slice bread, bag, place on tray, roll to closer, add closer and retray.

 

Before spaghetti map

AFTER

Operator traveled 530 steps in 20 minutes.  Long stretch of tables eliminated.  Slicer and closer co-located.

After spaghetti map

 

 

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