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Empirical assessment of the future adequacy of value stream mapping in manufacturing industries

Andreas Lugert (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany)
Aglaya Batz (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany)
Herwig Winkler (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 12 April 2018

Issue publication date: 23 May 2018




Value stream mapping (VSM) is very common in the manufacturing industry to enhance transparency and support improvements within the production process. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the current status of the method from the user’s point of view and addresses its future sustainability in the context of the ongoing digitalization.


An empirical survey with 170 participants from different branches was conducted. The web-based questionnaire covers the topics Lean Management, respectively, VSM, Industry 4.0, the integration of both approaches as well as a possible need for action to modify the VSM. Results are analyzed in a quantitative way.


Benefits and shortcomings of VSM are already confirmed by previous publications. The serious challenge is the lack of flexibility of the method. In general users appreciate a combination of Lean methods and solutions of Industry 4.0. Moreover 92 percent of the participating experts request further development of the VSM using digitalization to compensate weaknesses.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based only on Lean expert’s opinion. Over 95 percent of the participants are from Europe however most of them are from Germany. Although the results are adequate an international expansion of the survey would be advisable in order to distinguish local differences and similarities. In future work researchers need to further develop VSM to overcome the identified gaps.

Practical implications

Results of the study indicate the viewpoint of experts within different branches. This enables users to undertake a self-assessment regarding their own VSM-estimation.


This paper provides a current evaluation of the VSM from an exploratory perspective. The impact of global trends and new opportunities facilitated by digitalization are considered. Shortcomings and fields of actions become clear. Based on that necessity further research activities can be designed.



Lugert, A., Batz, A. and Winkler, H. (2018), "Empirical assessment of the future adequacy of value stream mapping in manufacturing industries", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 886-906.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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