Friday, June 14, 2024

Maximising efficiency in the supply chain: the power of value chain mapping

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Thomas Hellmuth Sander

5 min read·17 Reads
Maximising efficiency in the supply chain: the power of value chain mapping

Visualizing your supply chain is like having a clear path in a jungle. Value chain mapping uncovers inefficiencies, reduces costs, and reveals opportunities for innovation and sustainable growth, turning complexity into strategic advantage.

Dear Reader,

In the dynamic world of logistics, keeping track of all the moving parts of a supply chain can often feel like a maze. However, in my experience as a logistician and consultant, I have seen first-hand how a well-crafted map can transform this complicated network into a clear and manageable plan. This is where value chain mapping comes into play, a powerful tool for visualising, analysing and optimising supply chains.

The basics of value chain mapping

Imagine trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box. This is exactly what managing a supply chain can feel like when there is no clear visual representation. Value chain mapping provides that crucial picture. It's a detailed diagram that shows every step in the supply chain, from raw materials to the finished product that reaches the customer. This map includes all processes and stakeholders and provides a bird's eye view of the entire operation.

The process begins by identifying all activities involved in the manufacture and delivery of a product. These activities are then grouped into primary and supporting activities. Primary activities include inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, and service. Supporting activities include procurement, technology development, human resource management and corporate infrastructure.

Visualisation for clarity and insight

One of the greatest strengths of value chain mapping is its ability to make complex processes understandable at a glance. When each step of the supply chain is visualised, it is much easier to identify bottlenecks, redundancies and inefficiencies. For example, a company may notice that there are recurring delays in the delivery of raw materials at a certain point, indicating the need for a new supplier or better inventory management.

In addition, this visual clarity helps with communication with stakeholders. Whether it's explaining processes to new team members or presenting efficiency reports to executives, a visual aid simplifies the discussion. Abstract concepts are transformed into concrete images that everyone understands and can relate to.

Identify areas for improvement

Once the value chain has been mapped, the next step is to analyse it. This involves scrutinising every link in the chain to identify areas with potential for improvement. Are there steps that take longer than they should? Are certain resources being underutilised or wasted? By answering these questions, companies can streamline their processes, reduce waste and ultimately cut costs.

For example, in one of my recent consulting projects, we analysed a client's supply chain and found that transport costs were significantly higher than industry standards. By examining the value chain, we found that consolidating shipments and optimising delivery routes could drastically reduce these costs. Implementing these changes led to immediate savings and improved delivery times.

Unlocking innovation and growth

In addition to cost reduction and efficiency, mapping the value chain also reveals opportunities for innovation and growth. By having a comprehensive overview of the supply chain, companies can identify new opportunities to add value at every stage. This can include introducing new technologies, improving product design or even rethinking the entire business model.

For example, sustainable growth is increasingly becoming a priority for companies worldwide. Mapping the value chain can help identify areas where sustainability practices can be integrated, such as reducing energy consumption, minimising waste or sourcing materials ethically. These changes not only benefit the environment, but also improve the company's reputation and appeal to increasingly environmentally conscious consumers.

A typical example: a sustainable success story

A client, a medium-sized manufacturing company, wanted to improve its sustainability practices without compromising efficiency. By analysing the value chain, we identified several areas for improvement. By switching to renewable energy sources, optimising production processes to reduce waste and sourcing raw materials from sustainable suppliers, the company was not only able to reduce its environmental footprint, but also cut operating costs by 15%. This holistic approach to efficiency and sustainability is an example of the transformative power of value chain mapping.


To stay ahead in the ever-evolving field of logistics, it's not enough to make the trains run on time. It requires a deep understanding of every link in the supply chain and a willingness to continuously innovate and improve. Value chain mapping provides a clear, visual tool to achieve this and delivers insights that drive efficiency, cost savings and sustainable growth.

As a logistician and consultant, I have seen how this approach can transform organisations, turning chaotic operations into lean, efficient and innovative powerhouses. So if you want to improve your supply chain, start with a map. You'll be surprised at what it can open up.


Thomas Hellmuth-Sander

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