What to Know About Spaghetti Diagrams (Six Sigma)

8/26/20 10:30 AM

Are you attempting to track waste within your production facility? Are you trying to measure how much waste is generated through unnecessary steps within the process or walking within the facility? In manufacturing facilities and warehouses, waste is always a key issue – with unnecessary steps within a process being one of the main causes.

What to Know About Spaghetti Diagrams (Six Sigma)

For example, let’s say that an individual can complete a task every 2 minutes. As you observe the worker, you measure that it takes him 30 seconds to move from one area to the next to receive the component needed to complete the task. As this process is tracked, walking from area to area is taking the majority of his time, in which the only work that is being done is receiving the part! This is where engineers and process improvement teams would take a look at how they would be able to reduce the time needed to complete this step. As walking from area to area takes 30 seconds, this does not even include the amount of time that the worker may make a mistake, walk elsewhere first, or have a “slow” day. It also may not include the amount of corners, hallways, or detours that people have to take to get to certain areas, which all results in wasted time and energy.

This is where utilizing tools such as process flow charts and spaghetti diagrams would be beneficial. Process flow charts allow you to develop an understanding of the ideal process and how much output can be generated an hour, while spaghetti diagrams demonstrate the entire movement of a worker within a facility. Spaghetti diagrams can demonstrate the actual steps of making a mistake, unneeded walking or movement, and ultimately how it hinders production and productivity. Spaghetti diagrams can be an extremely useful tool as you seek to understand unnecessary movement and wasted time.

What to Know About Spaghetti Diagrams

For many companies, especially those that do not utilize lean concepts, the use of space is not exactly the most optimal or efficient. For many facilities, there are unnecessary obstacles that make it difficult for workers to be able to be the most efficient. The routing for production needs to be optimal in order to ensure for waste prevention. This is where a spaghetti diagram can be beneficial and can help achieve this goal.

Spaghetti diagrams are a visual representation of the routes that employees have to take through the office or the facility floor, which showcases wasteful activities such as unnecessary steps. The representation is by far a complicated visual that can be difficult to interpret, in which it resembles a jumble of spaghetti – hence the name. A spaghetti diagram showcases the continuous flow of an activity during a process and provides insight on the amount of movement that employees make on a day to day basis. 

How to Draw Spaghetti Diagrams

In order to draw a Spaghetti Diagram, it is a must to have or create a map of the workplace. This can be hand-drawing the facility or taking a look at the blueprints and overall layout. Then you will create dots and label them as individuals and draw their movement throughout the facility. This allows for the visualization of products or activities.

As you continue to track individuals, you will begin to analyze and understand the inefficiencies within the process, which is important to note within the diagram as you oversee their activities. When drawing a diagram, some tips includes making the diagram to scale, counting the steps that employees take, drawing a separate line per employee, and representing the route as naturally as possible.

Improvements Through Spaghetti Diagrams

A spaghetti Diagram will show you where the most time is lost. This is through bottleneck identification, which can push management to rearrange the workplace. While structural issues may be a bit more of an obstacle and hindrance, if it is costing the facility enough money then they may be on board to switch up the structural layout. The diagram will aid in providing a basis for process, office, factory floor, layout, or machine redesign. You may also look into other solutions such as minor renovations or new technologies that can improve processes.

Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software 

Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software has become a must for modern-day manufacturing operations due to customer demand for increased product mix and fast delivery combined with downward cost pressures. APS can be quickly integrated with a ERP/MRP software to fill gaps where these system lack planning and scheduling flexibility and accuracy. Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) helps planners save time while providing greater agility in updating ever-changing priorities, production schedules, and inventory plans.

  • Create optimized schedules balancing production efficiency and delivery performance
  • Maximize output on bottleneck resources to increase revenue
  • Synchronize supply with demand to reduce inventories
  • Provide company-wide visibility to capacity
  • Enable scenario data-driven decision making

Implementation of Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software will take your manufacturing operations to the next level of production efficiency, taking advantage of the operational data you already have in your ERP.

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