What is Process Mapping? | Quality Magazine

Process mapping is essentially a way to picture and understand the steps involved in a manufacturing process, making it easier to pinpoint inefficiencies.

For example, if you face delays in your assembly line, a process map can help you identify the source of the delays.

Creating a process map involves a few steps:

  • Define the Scope: Start by clearly defining the boundaries of the process you want to map. This includes the starting and ending points, as well as any key inputs and outputs.
  • Identify Steps: List all the steps involved in the process. Don’t worry about the order just yet; focus on capturing every action, decision, and interaction.
  • Sequence the Steps: Arrange the steps in the order they occur. This sequence will form the backbone of your process map.
  • Use Standard Symbols: Apply standard process mapping symbols to represent different types of actions and decisions. For example, use rectangles for process steps, diamonds for decisions, and arrows to show the flow of activities.
  • Review and Validate: Share the process map with your team to ensure it accurately reflects the actual workflow. Gather feedback and make necessary adjustments.

Think of it as a detailed flowchart that shows how inputs (or materials, information, etc.) are converted into outputs (finished products). By laying out each step, you can clearly see the workflow and identify areas that may be causing delays or quality issues.

Process mapping offers several benefits to manufacturers:

  • Clarity and Understanding: This technique makes the production process comprehensive, so everyone involved can understand how things work. This shared understanding makes it easier to teams to pinpoint and fix issues.
  • Identifying Inefficiencies: By mapping out each step, teams can locate bottlenecks, redundancies, and non-value-added activities. For example, if a process involves multiple checks that don’t significantly impact quality, they can simplify or eliminate those steps.
  • Standardization: Creating a process map helps in documenting best practices and standardizing procedures. It helps every team member to follow the same steps, reducing variability in product quality.
  • Facilitating Improvement: Once a team has a clear view of the process, it’s easier to make changes and fixes, such as rearranging steps to reduce wait times or automating repetitive tasks.

How to Create a Process Map

 

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