Greenhouse gas assessment with eVSM Mix

The challenge of dealing with climate change is upon us.

As lean practitioners we have learned the value of birds eye views to tackle key metrics in our value streams and the tradeoffs between them. We are used to metrics of lead time, capacity, inventory, resources and cost. eVSM’s value stream maps have standardized handling of these at plant and supply network levels.

We have now added sustainability variables to the metrics set for eVSM so they can be considered in parallel and we can be strategic about our response. The following blog looks at an application of these sustainability metrics to the life cycle for coffee, one of the most important crops in the world and using sample data from a 2020 article on the topic. The eVSM Mix engine is very well suited to mapping sustainability and there is an obvious parallel between value stream maps and sustainability life cycle assessments.

Italic entries in the blog reference eVSM Mix mechanics

Here’s the steps in the coffee life cycle. Coffee is sourced from several farms in the South Americas. Some skip any significant liming and irrigation and have the alternate route indicated by the curved arrow.
We have used the reference below to get representative data for each step (and each farm) and made up missing data when needed. Our purpose here is to show how sustainability life cycles can be mapped. We refer you to the reference itself for a detailed discussion of the Finland Coffee life cycle.
There are 8 farms providing coffee in the value stream and they are shown on the right. The routing through the steps can be different for each farm. The arrows connecting the steps are color-coded with the routing for each farm. You can see that only the two Brazil farms have significant irrigation and liming steps

Initially all the arrows have all the square colored shapes corresponding to the farms. Where a farm does not route through an arrow you simply right-click the square shape and turn off the route. 

Emission input field at each step. Allows input of CO2 per Liter for each farm at that step. Its also possible to input CO2 per time period

Double-click the tab to the right of the variable to open the input data form shown. Input via a spreadsheet is also available. Each activity knows which farms utilize it because the routing has been established.

Use the Default field in the form if all farms have the same emission at this activity

In the example above, a Unit is defined as a Liter but this is a matter of convenience for each activity. If the coffee is being transported for example an Unit could be defined as a truck load and with the corresponding input as emissions per load.

In the variable name above (Activity Unit SV) the SV refers to sustainability variable. In this example SV is a Kg of CO2

We can input the average consumption in liters/year from each farm per capita (per person). These demand values will propagate through the value stream and allow us to cumulate the average coffee CO2 footprint from all the activities

Double-click the tab to the right of the variable to open the input data form shown.

Equations are built into the map to:

1. Calculate the sustainability metric (in this case CO2 Kg per Liter of Coffee)for the life cycle associated with each farm. You can see the worst emissions are associated with Brazil Farm 2 (0.73 Kg/Liter) and the least with Nicaragua Farm 2 (0.29 Kg/Liter)
2. Based on the demand for coffee from each farm, the CO2 footprint per year per capita (person). This is 78 Kg/Year
3. The percent of overall footprint associated with each activity. For the activities shown you can see that Plant & Fertilize corresponds to about 50% of the footprint

Calculations are automated with the built-in equations. Just click the solver button in eVSM Mix

We can visualize the calculated values with gadgets and charts

1. Bar gadgets scaled to visualize the Kg/Liter for coffee originating from each farm
2. An accumulation of the carbon footprint per year for a particular farm showing the relative contributions from each step
3. Bar gadgets scaled to visualize the percent of overall footprint associated with each activity. For the activities shown you can see that Plant & Fertilize corresponds to about 50% of the footprint

Charts and gadgets are built into eVSM and can be applied to any variables on the map.

One of the mapping goals is to see and communicate the big picture from the sustainability perspective so we can make smart decisions about what to do next to reduce the carbon footprint

1. We can see that plant/fertilize, Grind/Brew & Drink/Dispose are the big contributors to the footprint
2. We can see that it really matters where we source the coffee. Brazil Farm 2 has 2.5x the carbon footprint per Liter than Nicaragua Farm 2
3. We can see that irrigation and liming when deployed can add significantly to the carbon emission. About 0.1Kg/Liter for Brazil farm 2

There is a Hide/Show views button to make it easy to hide the input and output variables so we can simplify the map and just use the visuals to see the big picture

Improvement ideas can be placed in context on the map. They can have associated owners, dates, metrics, impacts, estimation of difficulty etc..

A common approach to help select ideas to take to the next step is to plot a priority matrix that ranks impact versus implementation effort.

The map is a model where we can make a copy and test the impact of any ‘what-if’ scenarios. This can help to set targets and select ideas

The priority matrix plot allows Kaizen bursts to be dragged directly on the plot and changes the underlying impact and difficulty values. These metrics and other attributes can be output to a spreadsheet, further updated there, and then imported back into eVSM

The Kaizen matrix plot, the Kaizen key, Kaizen report are all automated functions in eVSM Mix

What if we eliminate the highest emitting farm life cycles and spread the demand to the others..
By using value stream maps to also do sustainability mapping we leverage a methodology we already know, and a lean improvement culture we have grown over many years. The addition of sustainability metrics, calculations has proven routine given eVSM’s mixed model engine and the range of similar calculations it was built to do.

Our work on this coffee case study has shown the following:

  • Sustainability mapping can be routine and automated (mixed model mapping engine, drag & drop construction, units support, Built-in variables and equations, built-in charts)
  • Its fast (Once you have the input values, its an hour to draw this map with all the analytics)
  • It impactful for the team. Designed for easy comprehension and “what-if’s. Supports viewpoints across time, cost & sustainability
  • Its stable. Its built on a mixed model value stream mapping engine that has been developed over 20 years
  • Its both affordable and secure. Data is stored on the desktop and not a third-party cloud. Training and services are available. Academic licenses are just $99 per year. Companies can purchase affordable enterprise licenses for lean and sustainability work starting at just $1495 per year for small companies

Contact us (Email for details and discussion.

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