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Rupinder N

Spaghetti Diagram

Spaghetti Diagram


Spaghetti Diagram is a lean tool that traces the actual movement of material, object and/or people on the shop floor. It uses a continuous line to trace the movement on a 2 dimensional floor map and is most commonly used to identify inefficient layouts and process wastes (transportation and motion). Once completed the straight lines appear like noodles and hence the name - Spaghetti Diagram.


An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided on 18th July 2019 by Mohamed Asif.


Applause for the respondents- Praveen Kumar K, Sharad Talvalkar,  Khalandar S,  Natwar Lal,  Mohamed Asif, Aparna MS, Manjula Pujar, Vij ji



Q. 177  Explain a spaghetti diagram and its use.


Please remember, your answer will not be visible immediately on responding. It will be made visible at about 5:00 PM IST/ 11:30 AM GMT/ 4:30 AM PST on 19th July 2019, Friday to all 53000+ members. It is okay to research various online sources to learn and formulate your answer but when you submit your answer, make sure that it does not have content that is copied from elsewhere. Plagiarized answers will not be approved (and therefore will not be displayed). 


All Questions so far can be seen here - https://www.benchmarksixsigma.com/forum/lean-six-sigma-business-excellence-questions/


All rewards are mentioned here - https://www.benchmarksixsigma.com/forum/excellence-rewards/

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Spaghetti Diagram: Process Analysis tool
It provides lucidity and understanding of the workflow. It gives better clarity of the current process and allows to see the visual flow of process and helps us in identifying Areas of Improvement.


Without breaking the flow, continuous tracking in done to trace the flow of the activity in the process. It is used to track the ACTUAL flow of the process.

It is also referred as Point-Point Flow chart / Work Flow diagram or simple Spaghetti chart.


Below diagram on right, looks messy alike Spaghetti ;););) and that's the name Spaghetti Diagram.




The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize - Shigeo

This powerful tool gives a sense of "Impact of Movement" in LEAN perspective and identify Wasteful Movements (Motion), waiting time and various transportation wastes in the process and keeps it nominal.


Usually used in complex process to understand the current flow "Current State - As-Is" and to propose opportunities for optimization "Future State - To-Be"


It can be used to track Product/Part, Multiple People/Person, Paper, Tools and Activity.


I would like to explain this with an example:



In the example, After lean - Spaghetti diagram (Improved Layout), considering below points:

  • Activity distance travelled is reduced
  • Distance is optimized
  • People/processes relocated (Layout reorganized) to be in order in which the process flows or activities made close to each other (Better Sequencing)
  • Unnecessary flow eliminated
  • Waiting time reduced  
  • Interruptions/facility constraints identified and eliminated
  • KANBAN opportunities identified

                        >> This can lead to faster deliverables / delivery or

                        >> With no change in delivery time but with lesser effort put in to complete the activity

                        >> This could result in Space and Motion saving

Benefits of using Spaghetti Diagram:

  • Helps to detect wasteful movements and identify ways to increase the speed of process
  • Identify possible inefficiencies/bottlenecks/Critical paths which causes delay in work place layout
  • Helps in creating ideal Layout design for the process  
  • Recourse allocation improvement are also identified
  • Unnecessary confused flow can be identified and eliminated
  • It reduces Employee Fatigue and Improves Employee Morale
  • It is used to identify redundancies in the process flow and eliminate them for optimal performance

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A Spaghetti diagram is a visual representation of actual flow in a process, system or natural stream. It is used to understand the transportation, waiting time and motion and is applied in sevaral industries such healthcase, factories, meterologyand others to understand, optimize or improve efficiency in the process, system or natural stream.

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Spaghetti Diagram is one of the Lean Tools. Lean manufacturing focusses on continuous  elimination of Waste. There are eight types of Waste as per the Toyota Production System. These eight types of Wastes are as mentioned below

1)      Unnecessary Transportation

2)      Excess Inventory

3)      Unnecessary movement

4)      Waiting

5)      Over processing

6)      Overproduction

7)      Defects

8)      Unused employee creativity.  

 Spaghetti diagram is used for tracing   the movement of materials, men & even documents for the sequence of operations / process under study. The diagram shows the physical  distance travelled form one workstation to another. Generally, lot of to & fro movement or even zig zag movement is observed in most of the processes. All such to & fro or zig zag movement is a Waste -Unnecessary movement which increases the cycle time or throughput time thereby contributing towards increase in the cost. The diagram looks a Spaghetti & hence known as Spaghetti Diagram.

For drawing a spaghetti diagram, one can use a blank sheet of paper. On this sheet one needs to first draw the existing layout of plant & machinery, workstation etc. Next draw the line charting the movement/ flow  of materials, men or document based on the scope of study. Note down the distance travelled on this chart. Different colors can be used to trace the movements (of different types of materials / document / men – as the case may be). On a single paper one can draw as many movements as possible. The only limitation is that the diagram should be  legible. 

The  reasons for spaghetti movement are as follows.

1)      Improper  plant / office layout.

2)      Sometimes the initial layout is made scientifically based on Work study & ergonomics but later on additional operations are introduced or sometimes new equipment is   added, thereby resulting into   spaghetti movement.

Thus, Spaghetti diagram helps in identifying unnecessary movements (one of the eight types of Waste) thereby providing an opportunity to make the process Leaner/ more efficient.  


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Spaghetti diagram is one of the visual representation tool that is used for measuring the distance traveled by  material & man movements as per process flow in plant layouts. The name is coined because of the appearance of man and material flows like Noodles in practical. 


It is a very useful to calculate the impact of two Lean wastage - Transportation( Material from one work station to other by means of manual, semi automatic or automatic) and also human Motion - in-effective Therbligs (as per Gilberth's Motion & time study) which refers operator VA/NVA - Pick & Place/Load & unload/ Grasp& release in performing a job in prescribed method.


The actual benefit of Spaghetti diagram is resulting the optimization of layout in minimal space & creating shorter distance traveled by material & man and this directly leads to enhancing the throughput with minimal inventory.


In similar to Spaghetti Diagram,  other Industrial Engineering tools like Travel chart, SIMO chart, String Diagram  are widely used for process flow analysis based on the product/ process matrix & type of layout adopted.

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Spaghetti Diagram: is a visual tool to help understand and trace the movement of people and/or material and helps in identification and improvement of the shop floor layout. It helps in visualizing two out of the eight wastes - Transportation and Motion. After studying the spaghetti diagram the unnecessary movements could be curtailed leading to an efficient process.


I have never used a Spaghetti Diagram, however, I feel it has usage in the following aspects

1. Designing the most efficient layout of the shop floor

2. Designing the layout of any service organization where customers are required to move. E.g. Bank, Hospital, Super Market, Passport Seva Kendra etc.

3. Designing the optimal route for a delivery boy. E.g. postman, Swiggy or Amazon or any other delivery boys or girls

4. Designing the optimal route for transportation. E.g. bus or cab routes for offices and schools

5. Providing a snapshot view of the route taken or the pre-defined routes. E.g. Map of the route taken post an Uber ride or the route map of an airlines or the map of metro coverage or routes of ships etc.


Providing some snapshots below to see how a spaghetti diagram looks like (images from Google search)




Fig. 1 - Optimizing the shop floor or customer service center layout

spaghetti 1.png

Fig. 2 - Route taken post an Uber ride

spaghetti 2.JPG

Fig. 3 - Domestic and International routes for an airline

Indigo Route Map.JPG

Fig. 4 - Metro rail route map of Delhi

spaghetti 3.jpg

Fig.5 - World shipping routes (depending on the type of cargo)

spaghetti 4.jpg

Fig. 6 - Delivery route (may be planned or completed)

spaghetti 5.jpg

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A Spaghetti Diagram or Plot is a Lean Tool which helps in identification and thus reduction of waste.  It is easily defined as a visual graphical representation depicting a continuous flow of activities in a process.   
Although, spaghetti is not an in itself an optimization method, it is merely a tool for understanding the current representation of the process. 
The most ideal way of crafting a spaghetti diagram is by through walking through the steps of the activity. Plot the process on a piece of paper and jot down the waste items which have resulted in delays along the way. The ideal trick is to walk through the process physically to note the regularities and the waste. Since the items and steps are haphazard in nature, the final representation is messy and thus the name “Spaghetti”.

After a diagrammatic representation, it can used to determine a critical path solution for the process


It has several benefits for multiple industries as it identifies inefficiencies, wastes in motion and transportation, . The most optimum industries include manufacturing (factories), climatology, medicine and topography 

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Spaghetti Diagram


Sphagetti diagram is visual representation of basic flow of people/product   


A visual creation of actual flow.

It is also known as workflow analysis diagram 


Steps to draw spahgetti

* It begins with layout of space where the flow takes place

* Then Record process on side and     start begining of scope.

* Need to check how frequently each place  is visited at workplace/production area

* Record amount of time within each   activity

* Need to understand distance ,time,Start stop ,execution area,

* Then record actual flow lines using pencil and paper to draw on space layout.

* When all flow lines are recorded they tend todraw spaghetti.



* It shows layout of work place

* It helps to minimize the time of travel 

* It identifies inefficiency or unwanted  waste in process

* Avoid time consuming and nonproductiveactivities.

* Use to track product/people flow.

* Helps to make proper use of workplace  by organising flow as per process




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It is actually the virtual way of presenting the working instructions to read them better. Every single step of the process is captured in the picture with the connecting dots in mind, from this diagram one can find out the time wasted in unwanted activities and can take measures to either eliminate or reduce these wastages

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The chosen best answer is that of Mohamed Asif for providing clear answer, visuals and example. Read through Natwar, Sharad and Manjula's answers for more insights.

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