Are Lean Thinking and Simulation Modeling Compatible?

We’ve been asked this question by many of our students, who believe that when you’re operating under a Lean methodology, instead of simulating something, your time would be better spent on the factory floor.

Well, we’re going to make the case for you today that simulation modeling is a much safer way of designing a production line.

Now, if we’re talking about a line that is two stations with just screwdrivers and bits and pieces then, yeah sure, there’s no risk implementing changes right away. However, if you are like several of our clients who build highly complex products, the risk is much higher, and you should seriously consider modeling your line before bringing it live or implanting changes.


You don’t want to just go out and try to model something without having a structure or framework. The line design roadmap is what we’ve been teaching for many years – we offer live and online training. It basically walks you through the methodology that includes simulation, but it includes a lot more to get you to designing that perfect value stream.

Without that foundation you’re really opening the doors to a lot of random efforts that may lead you astray. So if you’re not familiar with the roadmap there are many opportunities to learn more about it, but for the purposes of this lesson, we’re taking that as a foundation assumption that you’re working with the line design roadmap.

Simulation takes place as a part of that journey, but the roadmap includes a lot of other phases a lot of other aspects in terms of developing the ultimate value stream.

You would never hear from us, or from anybody who knows anything about designing a line,

“Here is a simulation package. Go and design your line.”

Never! That’s a recipe for disaster.

You should not start building a simulation model until you have already collected all of the data, gone through the data validation, defined the standard work, calculated the number of resources, added In-Process Kanbans, and created a conceptual line design.

If you start talking about building a simulation model before that, you’re shooting in the dark and it’s going to be a very risky endeavor.

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