Critical path mapping and other tools can capture a snapshot of the time between activities, or queue time, but what if we want to go further? What if we wanted to calculate potential queue times to evaluate the current state, hypothetical, or future state process design? We need a tool that allows us to electronically manipulate the factory and calculate the impact to demonstrate the effectiveness of Lean strategies and process design. Discrete-event Simulation is an option, but requires a high-degree of knowledge, experience, and skill. This tool is powerful when examining the steady-state performance of a continuous process but is not well-suited to most manufacturing environments.

This means we need a tool that is suitable for job-shop and mass customization strategies. This is Value Stream Modeling.

The software accepts basic information very familiar to an item routing, work order, or job packet; what generic steps are required to produce the item, what capacity do they consume, and for how long? By providing basic information about availability and product category demand, the system will evaluate the feasibility of the scenario, utilization, and lead-times. This information allows the User to evaluate the facility performance but more importantly, quantify the potential impact of a process or strategy change.

This capability allows a facility to quantify impacts and prioritize the changes to make based on the ability to reduce lead-times. Many of the changes that can be tested in the system are directly related to concepts in Lean, which provides another vehicle to help explain and justify Lean strategies.