The improvement cycle DMAIC-Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control-is a powerful framework that ensures a data-driven approach for improving, optimizing and stabilizing business processes and design phases. DMAIC suggests the adoption of standard and specific tools for each phase. In this work an improved methodology is proposed, called “DMAIC FL_UE”. The term FL_UE means FLow_valUE, it is added to put the attention of the proposed approach to the Value Chain and to a particular tool: Value Stream Map. Consequently, the focus is on some of the 7+1 wastes of lean production, more linked to the material flow optimization. The DMAIC cycle can be divided into two parts: first three phases-DMA, “set the problem”; last two phases – IC, “solve” the problem. The main goal of the proposed methodology is the setting of the problem by the analyst, using the proposed tools. According to DMAIC FL_UE, traditional mapping tools have been reorganized and new ones have been proposed. In order to test the applicability of the new approach for highlighting the criticalities, a case study was developed in a company of the metalworking industry and the current state of material flows was analyzed through the use of the DMAIC FL_UE tools. It was possible to analyze the flows of raw materials and products, highlighting many critical issues to be solved and stages to be optimized; in particular: many unnecessary handling activities managed by internal suppliers; big quantities of materials ordered by internal planners; a very low digitization and integration of production information. Therefore, starting from the photograph of the actual process problems, possible solutions are suggested to the company in order to reduce the lead time and the storage of materials, that means to reduce the invested capital and to increase the elasticity and flexibility to satisfy the market demand. Subsequently, the company management should adopt the suggestions to solve the highlighted criticalities, monitoring the results in terms of flow optimization.
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