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  The NIST Manufacturing Extension Program for Kentucky

Advantage KY News

Mapping the Future

When is the last time you decided to go on vacation and left without thinking about where you are going and how to get there? By preparing for everything or worse yet, embarking but preparing for nothing, there is only one guarantee; it is going to be an expensive trip!

“KY Roadmap Graphic

I can picture it now … you pack an extra-large suitcase that holds everything from a swim suit to a business suit. You have a separate suitcase for all the shoes you will need; tennis shoes, running shoes, walking shoes, black and brown dress shoes, work boots, dress boots, snowmobile boots and don’t forget your trusty flip-flops. The entire family packs for both warm and cold climates ready for sleet, snow, sunshine, and tsunamis’. Good grief you look like Clark Griswold from National Lampoons Vacation driving down the street! It probably will also be a good idea to bring some extra money. You remember as you are driving away that your car is due for an oil change and your brakes are beginning to grind. You will inevitably stop by a local “convenience store” (the type you can buy bait, beans and Band-Aids) and pay $25 for the $5 bag of charcoal you forgot at home on your way into your final destination but who cares, it might be 2am and it took you 3 days to get there but you are finally there! You might lose a piece of luggage or two but turns out you really did not need them anyways. That is the problem with simply driving with no pre-planning or map to get you there. Pre-planning and a map bring focus and structure to your adventure. It stops you from driving east to find out you really wanted to go west. It allows you to pack a duffle bag with a towel, swim suit, a few pairs of shorts and t-shirts because turns out all you really wanted to do was drive to the local water hole to go swimming for the weekend. Without pre-planning and mapping out an expected destination and outcome, you will spend money on non-pertinent activities taking money from needed activities that would allow you to get to your destination quicker and cheaper.

In the business world, pre-planning and the mapping of activities to achieve the desired outcome is similar to the same thought processes you go through when planning a vacation. Bad strategies and planning result in wasted efforts and resources. Wasted efforts and resources correlate to wasted money and we only have so much available money to “waste”.  Most do not realize how much money they are spending on bad and un-focused (non-valued added) activities.

“Value Added Graphic

Most of the manufacturing world has heard of Lean Manufacturing and is at least familiar with Value Stream Mapping (VSM). Manufacturers do not realize the flexibility of VSM in their facility though. VSM maps out a company’s “current state” activities, compares them to “world-class” initiatives and develops a strategy for change creating a better “future state” of activities which includes objectives for achieving goals. A goal could be increase through-put by 10% or increase new customers by 20%. VSM’s purpose is simply to identify “value added activities” and more importantly, identify “non-value added” activities to eliminate. Most only think about VSM from the view of the plant floor and looking at plant problems and issues such as Quick Changeover, 5S, Problem Solving, Kanban and of course, Lean 101 but VSM philosophies can also be applied to ALL activities in manufacturing, most importantly, growth. Most companies who have problems in growth simply do not have a good mapped out process to allow them to spend their limited resources smartly creating activities to develop new or improved revenue streams.

VSM can and should be utilized for both Lean and Growth activities and like all good Systems, should start with a sound business strategy to set direction. By truly understanding what a company’s Very Important Problems and Very Important Opportunities (VIP/VIO) are, companies can then coordinate a map of activities to allow them to increase speed and decrease risk in the development of new ideas for increasing revenue. By doing a little pre-planning and most importantly mapping of processes, you will bring structure and focus to your activities ensuring you are not walking out of that “convenience store” with your $50 gourmet dinner of pork n beans and hotdogs. You can do it, it would work but eventually, your resources (money and staff) will either be depleted or worse yet, leave for the neighbor’s aroma of steaks.   

The Advantage Kentucky Alliance (AKA) is Kentucky’s resource to address the challenges of today’s hyper-competitive business environment. Cut cost. Be efficient. Achieve profitable growth. AKA’s cost effective services give manufacturers the tools to be competitive. Regardless if it is a spot solution or total transformation, all technical assistance and training is customized to fit your objectives.  Our goal is that you use the AKA as your Resource Center of choice in KY.  Again, if you are “willing and able”, allow AKA to educate you on potential solutions.

For more information about how the Advantage Kentucky Alliance can help you bring structure and focus to your activities, develop business strategies, do Value Stream Mapping or for more information on any of our other Continuous Improvement,  Growth services, or other services, call our Marketing Specialist, Kurt Felten, directly at (270) 745-3370, and begin the conversation today.

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