Spaghetti Diagram is a simple but powerful tool that is essential in any Operational Excellence, Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Kaizen or Continuous Improvement project. Sometimes the sequential workflow can get so complicated from one step to the next that the finished diagram looks like a bowl of spaghetti. A Spaghetti Diagram is formed by drawing the exact route through a process in the real work environment. Lines are used to depict the movement from one location in the process to another. Sometimes, it is useful to use different colours to represent the movement of different parts and the flow of information.
Spaghetti Diagrams ( also known as Spaghetti Chart) can be used to determine bottlenecks and two of the eight types of waste, motion, and transportation, which are common in processes with poor layouts. As you can see from our example, the maps visually convey waste immediately. They are simple to use and the technique can be taught to others in a very short period of time. A completed map shows the complexities of your process, and it is normal to experience a strong reaction to the chaos, or spaghetti, on the map.
Spaghetti Diagrams are a great tool to use in your improvement project because they are easy to use, easy to construct, and easy to analyze. We can construct a spaghetti diagram in the following steps.
Step 1: Start by drawing a scaled diagram of the physical facility layout. It is important that what is on paper is proportionate to the actual space. The perspective of the diagram is from a bird’s-eye view looking down on the process.
Step 2: Then mark the areas that you need to focus on the diagram and clearly indicate. For each step in the process, indicate what task is completed at what step, or at least indicate the person or department involved at each step.
Step 3: Walk through the process. Imagine you are the item, component, or information flowing through the process as you make your way through each step and make note of it on your diagram. Be sure to document the time it takes you to move from one step to another. Recording the distance between steps is useful when there is a long distance between sequential steps or when there are a number of steps that are separated by great distances. You can use different colours to show different process paths for different parts or information. The objective is to create a visual map, so use whatever markings are clearest and have the most impact.
Step 4: Document the travel time and distance from the map into a table and calculate the opportunity. You will want to do this on both the before and after spaghetti diagrams to show the time or distance savings.
Using a scaled layout to construct your spaghetti diagram will make it very easy and it can get started using a computer drafting software. If not, build your own diagram in whatever software is available to you. Just make sure it is scaled and true-to-life. Sometimes it’s best to record the physical distance your product travels on the map itself. A table can be made to demonstrate summaries for each process step. If you have more than one product, it is a good idea to map each product in a different colour. By doing this you can see which product to focus on and where you can get the biggest improvements.
Current state diagrams can best be evaluated if they are viewed side-by-side with the future state diagrams. Create your diagram using a realistic timeframe, such as a shift worth of production or hours of peak demand. This will ensure everyone who looks at the diagram will be able to understand it. Experts find that spaghetti diagrams have the most impact when they are animated. Using an application such as PowerPoint to demonstrate, in real-time, the wastes of motion and transportation will elicit a stronger response from your audience.
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