A Complete List of Value Stream Mapping Symbols

Value stream mapping (VSM) is a workplace efficiency tool that uses a flowchart to document every step in the process. Many lean practitioners employ the VSM to identify the potential for reducing process cycle time and reduce waste to work towards process improvement. VSM is a technique that uses value stream mapping symbols to create a visual guide to analyze and optimize the entire process.

1. What Are Value Stream Mapping Symbols

VSM utilizes industry-recognized value stream symbols to map out all the processes from raw material to finished product. It is a graphical representation of the manufacturing process by including all stakeholders, processes, information, and materials in a flowchart. VSM symbols are best suited for visualizing production process design through the principles of process improvement. Different departments that use value stream mapping are manufacturing, logistics, supply chain management, IT services, software development, and HR.

Value Stream Mapping Symbols

2. Value Stream Mapping Symbols Explained

Lean Enterprise Institute introduced many recognized symbols in the book "Learning to See," in 2009. Though VSM symbols are not an exhaustive list, you can add your symbols based on your requirement. However, the team must be on the same page about the newly introduced symbols.

Value stream mapping symbols are categorized as;

  1. Process VSM symbols
  2. Material VSM symbols
  3. Informational VSM symbols
  4. General symbols

2.1 Process Symbols

Value stream mapping icons and symbols that are used to visualize part of the process to identify waste of resources are called process symbols. Process symbols are related to the working and functions of different processes like manufacturing, supply chain, HR, etc.

A brief introduction to process symbols is given in the following table.

Symbol Name Description
VSM symbols - Supplier Icon Customer/Supplier Icon
The customer or supplier icon represents two different elements based on the placement.

It represents the supplier if it is placed in the upper left corner of a value stream map.
When it is placed in the upper right corner, it represents the customer.
VSM symbols - Dedicated process flow icon Dedicated process flow icon This Value stream mapping symbol represents fixed and continuous internal material flow through a department, process, operation, or machine.
VSM symbols - Shared process icon Shared process icon This VSM symbol represents a process, department, operation, or work center shared by other value stream families.
VSM symbols - Databox icon Databox icon The data box icon represents the significant data. It is usually placed under other symbols that own this data. It can be input material used in one day, the quantity of waste or shipping frequency, etc.
VSM symbols - Workcell icon Workcell icon The work cell icon shows an integration of multiple processes into one manufacturing work cell.

2.2 Material Symbols

Material value stream mapping symbols include symbols of everything related to Inventory and materials. It includes raw materials, inventories, and the operations related to them. Let us see them one by one now.

Symbol Name Description
VSM symbols -  Inventory Symbol Inventory Symbol This inventory Value stream mapping icon can show Inventory between two processes and stored Inventory. Add the inventory count below this triangle, if required.
VSM symbols -  Shipment Symbol Shipment Symbol Shipment represents the shifting of procured raw materials from the supplier to the plant. It also shows the delivery of finished products from the manufacturer to the customer.
VSM symbols - Push Arrow Push Arrow Push arrow VSM symbol is used to represent the journey of material from one process to another. It is mostly used in manufacturing.
VSM symbols - Supermarket Supermarket It is also known as a Kanban stock point. It shows where downstream customers can get the Inventory they need as the supplier provides it.
VSM symbols - Material Pull Material Pull It is used when supermarkets connect to downstream processes to remove the materials from the supermarket physically.
VSM symbols - FIFO Lane FIFO Lane Represents a First-In-First-Out inventory system. The maximum limit of input 'MAX' is written under the line.
VSM symbols - Safety Stock Safety Stock It is the emergency stock that is used to protect the system in case of system failures.
VSM symbols - External Shipment External Shipment External shipment is a shipment of raw materials from the supplier or delivery of products to the customer.

2.3 Information Symbols

Symbol Name Description
VSM symbols - Production Control Production Control Production control represents a central production scheduling or control department.
VSM symbols - Manual Info Manual Info Manual info is the flow of general information from memos, reports, etc.
VSM symbols - Electronic info icon Electronic info icon The electronic info icon shows the digital information flow such as the Internet, Intranets, LANs, WANs, etc.
VSM symbols - Production Kanban Production Kanban Production kanban represents the production needed to supply parts to customers.
VSM symbols - Withdrawal  Kanban Withdrawal Kanban It represents a card that instructs the operator to move parts from a supermarket to a process.
VSM symbols - Signal Kanban Signal Kanban The Signal Kanban symbol represents that inventory levels in a supermarket have dropped to a minimum. Eventually, it signals the production for the receiving process.
VSM symbols - Kanban Post Kanban Post Kanban posts are used near supermarkets to show a location for collecting Kanban signals.
VSM symbols - Sequenced pull icon Sequenced pull icon Represents a pull system that offers instructions to processes to manufacture a required product. It eliminates the need for supermarket storage.
VSM symbols - Load leveling icon Load leveling icon The load leveling icon is used to batch Kanbans to level the production volume.
VSM symbols - MRP/ERP MRP/ ERP Material requirements planning (MRP) is an inventory scheduling symbol.
VSM symbols - Go See Go See It is used when visual observation by the supervisor is required.
VSM symbols - Verbal information Verbal information Verbal and personal information flow.

2.4 General Symbols

Symbol Name Description
VSM symbols - Kaizen burst icon Kaizen burst icon The Kaizen burst icon highlights the problem areas. It is a short burst of activity to solve a problem with intensity and urgency.
VSM symbols - Other information icon Other information icon Useful Information
VSM symbols - Timeline Timeline Symbol The timeline shows waiting times and processing times. It also helps calculation of lead time and total cycle time.
VSM symbols - Transportation Symbol Transportation Symbol This is a group of symbols showing the type of transportation. Such as trains, airplanes, boats, or ships.
VSM symbols - Warehouse Symbol Warehouse Symbol Internal or external warehouse.
VSM symbols - Cross-Dock Symbol Cross-Dock Symbol Shows the supply chain that eliminates the need for a warehouse. The materials go directly from inbound to outbound trucks.
VSM symbols - Phone Phone Communication by phone or even phone orders.
VSM symbols - Batched Kanban Batched Kanban Kanban cards arriving or being sent in batches.

3. Tips for Using Value Stream Mapping Symbols

Using EdrawMax Online is very easy for drawing UML diagrams. Let us discuss some pro tips. Value stream mapping symbols are available in the literature and are mostly recognized. But then every business model can also devise their symbols as well for extending the symbols set. EdrawMax Online has an excellent collection of VSM symbols for drawing these process improvement models. EdrawMax is very easy to use because of the familiar user interface and drag and drop tool. Let us present you with some quick tips for using EdrawMax Online.

3.1 Use a Professional UML Diagram Tool

Find Value stream mapping symbols are available easily at EdrawMax Online>Symbol Library> Business>Value stream mapping uml notation - Tips for Using Value Stream Mapping Symbols

3.2 Create VSM Symbols by Yourself

EdrawMax Online has a vast VSM symbols library, but as we already discussed, you can also add your individualized VSM icons based on your requirements. Import your symbols in SVG, VSSX, and other formats easily using the import tool. Go to the library option on the sidebar and click on the import icon. Different tabs in the new pop-up window will show you selection tools. uml notation - Tips for Using VSM Symbols

You can also learn more from this video. YouTube.

4. Conclusion

The value stream is a series of processes and activities that a business model goes through to add value to the inputs and deliver products to customers. Value stream mapping symbols allow you to create a map that identifies potential gaps for reducing waste of both material and effort. A value stream map is a lean tool that helps the business maximize its available resources and ensure that materials and time are used efficiently. Find more valua stream mapping examples.

edrawmax logoEdrawMax Online
Create 280+ types of diagrams online
Access diagrams anywhere, anytime
Everything in desktop + Templates Community
Team management and collaboration
Personal Cloud and Dropbox Integration
edrawmax logoEdrawMax Desktop
Create 280+ types of diagrams
Support Windows, Mac, Linux
Full access to resources and templates
On-premises software for business
Enterprise-level data security
Related Articles
EdrawMax online
main page
download EdrawMax EdrawMax online
main page