Simulation-enhanced lean design process

Simulation-enhanced lean design process, A traditional lean transformation process does not validate the future state before implementation, relying instead on a series of iterations to modify the system until performance is satisfactory. An enhanced lean process that includes future state validation before implementation is presented. Simulation modeling and experimentation is proposed as the primary validation tool. Simulation modeling and experimentation extends value stream mapping to include time, the behavior of individual entities, structural variability, random variability, and component interaction effects. Experiments to analyze the model and draw conclusions about whether the lean transformation effectively addresses the current state gap can be conducted. Industrial applications of the enhanced lean process show it effectiveness.

Lean concepts for system transformation have become ubiquitous (Learnsigma 2007). However, lean concepts do not address one significant issue: providing evidence that a system transformation will meet measurable performance objectives before implementation. This lack of validation increases the risk the transformed system will not meet the performance objectives. The various existing lean processes address this deficiency by emphasizing their iterative nature: simply repeating all or a part of the process, including implementation, until the objectives are achieved. This approach is inherently oppositional to lean concepts as it unnecessarily extends the time and thus increases the cost of completing the transformation to a lean system.

Ferrin, Muller, and Muthler (2005) provide a perspective for addressing this lean deficiency: Simulation is uniquely able to support achieving a corporate goal of finding a correct, or at least a very good, solution that meets system design and operation requirements before implementation. Thus, these authors conclude that simulation provides a more powerful tool (a 6σ capable tool) than those commonly used in a lean process.

The objective of this paper is to develop an enhanced process for lean system transformation that includes kanban sizing, physical layout, and quantification of other parameters such that the risk of system performance objectives not being met by the first transformation activities is low. Developing such a process requires future state validation which can be accomplished by integrating simulation modeling and experimentation into a lean transformation process. Simulation is used to provide quantitative validation evidence that system requirements and objectives will be met by the first system transformation. Industrial applications are presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new framework.


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