New App From Bosch Rexroth Utilizes Lean Manufacturing and Visualization Techniques
A new app from Bosch Rexroth provides digital mapping, design, and visualization of value streams to support lean manufacturing efforts.
The ValueStreamManager app is available for users of Bosch Rexroth’s ActiveCockpit software. This app can provide real-time, paperless, transparent value stream mapping possible for shop floor management.
Lean Manufacturing/Lean Management
Lean manufacturing can go by several different names: lean production, just-in-time production, just-in-time manufacturing, and the acronym JIT. While Six Sigma (another well-known manufacturing paradigm) focuses on reducing defects in highly standardized products, lean manufacturing is more general. The term itself aims to reduce waste during manufacturing without compromising production speed.
A diagram showing lean manufacturing techniques. Image used courtesy of Bosch Rexroth
One important tool used in lean manufacturing is value stream mapping. Value stream mapping visualizes all the steps involved in a production process, tracking the flow of goods from the suppliers to the customers.
How ValueStreamManager Works
VSM (ValueStreamManager) is an app for Bosch Rexroth’s ActiveCockpit interactive software, which itself is used to provide real-time data and visualization for manufacturing processes. The VSM app focuses on value streams, observing and gathering data on all value streams during the production process.
ValueStreamManager is an app for ActiveCockpit and provides digital, transparent value stream mapping capabilities. Image used courtesy of Bosch Rexroth
The information gathered comes from data related to ordering, stock levels, assembly, and delivery to customers. Next, both value-creating and non-value-creating activities are calculated and analyzed. The value streams are visualized to provide actionable information on both the current state and the target status.
Bosch Rexroth’s VSM app generates value stream mapping that can identify potential bottlenecks in the manufacturing process.
Unlike more traditional approaches related to value streams, VSM can allow larger value streams to be split into more individually defined, specific areas through a grouping function. Because VSM is paperless, critical value stream data and visualization can be accessed immediately by plant managers and other key decision-makers.
According to Bosch Rexroth, three key steps to achieving optimization with the VSM app are mapping, design, and improvement. During mapping, an employee records the value stream live on the shop floor, and the app automatically calculates throughput times.
A lean manufacturing assembly line. Image used courtesy of Bosch Rexroth
The design step allows possible optimization states to be compared and a target state reached. The improvement step then supports visualization of KPIs using radar charts and bar charts, allows Kaizen blitzes to be defined to analyze faults, find solutions to them, and provides a constant PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) loop that aids in improving the KPIs and generates added value.
Among the most immediate benefits of using VSM are more efficient material and information flow planning. VSM also provides much greater transparency when it comes to day-to-day operations. The high transparency supports a lean manufacturing approach through more optimized sales planning and better use of available resources.
VSM also allows managers at various levels to collaborate and make critical decisions in a more timely manner. When the information about value streams is acted on appropriately, facilities will reduce material waste, problematic bottlenecks, delayed deliveries, and storage costs.
The manufacturing industry is still facing challenges in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, including weakness related to supply chains. The use of lean manufacturing principles, including the value streaming provided by ValueStreamManager, can minimize the impact of such disruptions and enhance existing lean manufacturing efforts.