What is and how to use a spaghetti chart?

A spaghetti chart or spaghetti plot is a process analysis tool.  This simple and effective tool is to trace the path of a given activity.  You can visualize the flow of people, information, or materials through the system or area.  Its name comes from the similarity in how a noodle dish looks and the diagram.

The continuous flow enables the identification of waste within the system.  For example, you would be able to see how many times a person has to walk to the printing room to get his/her hardcopies.  

How to draw a spaghetti chart

The following are the basic steps to draw the spaghetti diagram.

  1. Get or draw a map of the area.
  2. Define the first and last steps of the process you are going to analyze.
  3. Starting with the first step of the process, draw a continuous line or arrow pointing to the end of that step.
  4. Draw a line or arrow from there to the end of the second step.
  5. Repeat until reaching the last step.

You can support the information from this chart, measuring the distance between steps and adding how many times each station or point is reached during one cycle.  The time it takes to travel between points helps to calculate what percentage of the time the employee is moving between areas, which is waste.  Below you can see an example of a diagram used to illustrate the movements of laboratory technicians while completing one test.

what is an spaghetti chart?

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