Value stream map shapes

On a value stream map, shapes represent different parts of the value stream.

To enter data on a shape, see Shape data on a value stream map.

Material flow shapes

Shape Name Represents


An area of flow, or an individual operation.

Outside Sources

Customers, suppliers, and outside manufacturing processes that provide materials or services.


Shipments of materials or products.


The point where a downstream process pulls from an upstream supermarket.

Push Arrow

The movement of material or work that is pushed, instead of pulled.

Finished Goods

The movement of material or finished goods.

Inventory shapes

Shape Name Represents


Materials that are at a process step, waiting to be used.


A controlled inventory that supplies a downstream process without interruption. The open side should face the process that supplies the materials for the supermarket.

First-In-First-Out Sequence Flow

A type of inventory that promotes consistent, sequential workflow by requiring that the first piece to enter the inventory is also the first piece to enter the subsequent process step.

Buffer Stock

A type of inventory that is used to protect against uncertainties in customer demand and in the supply chain. Also know as safety stock.

Information flow shapes

Shape Name Represents


An information flow or a schedule.

Production Kanban

A signal to produce a certain amount of a part or service.

Withdrawal Kanban

A signal to acquire or transfer materials.

Kanban Post

A kanban collection point.

Batches Kanban

Materials that move in batches.

Signal Kanban

A signal to produce a batch of parts from the supplying process. Use it when the supplying process requires changeovers.

Load Leveling

A tool that levels the amount and mix of kanbans over a given time period to create a steady flow.

Kanban Path

The flow of kanbans in a value stream.

Sequenced-Pull Ball

A signal to immediately produce a given quantity of a part or service. Use it in a pull system without supermarkets.

Go See Scheduling

A signal to adjust the schedule based on the actual workplace.

Manual Information Flow

The manual transfer of information, such as a printed production schedule.

Electronic Information Flow

The electronic transfer of information, such as an online form.

Other shapes

Shape Name Represents

Kaizen Burst

A point where improvements should be investigated. A possible candidate for a kaizen workshop.


An operational cell, which is a unit that consists of the number of operators that is required to complete the process step. One operational cell can have one or more people.

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