Dr. Linda Ann Riley’s (Univ. New Haven) Innovative Teaching Approach for ProModel and Process Simulator (1 of 2)

Headshot_Linda Riley UNH

Dr. Linda Ann Riley Ph.D. UNH

I have been teaching ProModel for the past 20 years and most recently in the capstone simulation course in the University of New Haven’s (UNH) M.S. in Engineering and Operations Management (MSEOM) program.  In the course immediately preceding simulation, Six Sigma Quality Planning, I use both Microsoft Visio and Minitab as the software programs for course delivery.  This brings me to the topic of this blog post: my experiences this past Spring introducing Process Simulator into the ProModel /Visio/ Minitab mix.

 

In a traditional semester setting, teaching four different software programs in addition to subject matter content could be achievable. But the University of New Haven’s MSEOM is delivered in an accelerated format with each class meeting six hours on one evening each week over seven weeks. The final two classes in the program are Six Sigma Quality Planning and Simulation Techniques and Applications.  During these final two classes over 14 weeks, students also undertake a technical capstone project that fulfills a graduation requirement.

The UNH MSEOM is directed to individuals with technical undergraduate degrees presently holding middle to upper level management positions.  Almost all of the participants in the cohort work in engineering related jobs at large organizations such as General Dynamics, Amgen, Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin, Pfizer and General Electric to name a few.  Fortunately, I have always had highly motivated students in each cohort I have taught over the past 10 years.

From day one of the Six Sigma class, three programs were introduced, Visio, Minitab and Process Simulator.  I use Lean Six Sigma and Minitab (5th Edition): The Complete Toolbox Guide for Business Improvement by Quentin Brook as the text for the class.  Teaching for six hours per class requires a pedagogical strategy of moving from content delivery to computer exercises and back multiple times during the class.  This strategy has been highly effective over the years and allows for reinforcement of the subject matter and in-class practice and troubleshooting using software.

Since most of the cohort had at least minimal exposure to Visio in the workplace, introducing Process Simulator proved to be rather seamless.  The Quickstart and How To videos were assigned for homework on the first class and by the second class, my expectation was that each student could create a fairly straightforward process flow diagram in Process Simulator as an in-class lab.

PS first model

Process Simulator – First Student Model

The mechanics of creating a process flow chart in the Process Simulator environment presented no challenges for the students.  However, one of my lessons learned involved the information needed to move from the purely Visio environment to the Process Simulator environment.  The level of detail needed with respect to the amount and type of information to accurately define properties for activities, routing rules and arrivals was of the same magnitude as needed for a simulation exercise using ProModel.

PS properties machine center

Process Simulator – Activity Properties Dialogue Box

Even though the students could apply simulation properties to their Process Simulator diagrams, the output results were far from the expected solution at first.

PM first model capacity graph

Output Viewer – Single Capacity Activity States Graph

Consequently, some time was spent troubleshooting the models.  Yet in the process, students developed a much richer understanding of how to use Process Simulator especially within the context of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies.  After a reasonable level of proficiency was developed with Process Simulator, we were able to export data and further analyze results in Minitab.  We will complete Linda’s story in the next post.

About Dr. Linda Ann Riley Contact Information: linda.ann.riley@gmail.com

Linda Ann Riley, Ph.D. presently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Engineering for the University of New Haven’s graduate program in Engineering and Operations Management. She retired from full time teaching and administration in 2015.  Dr. Riley worked for 12 years at Roger Williams University (RWU) where she held the positions of Associate Dean, Engineering Program Coordinator and Professor of Engineering. Prior to RWU, she was a Professor and Program Director at New Mexico State University for 18 years.  Her teaching experience includes both engineering and business courses and she is the recipient of a number of corporate, university and national excellence in teaching awards. Dr. Riley is the author/co-author of over 100 articles, technical and research reports, and book contributions. Her area of scholarly interest involves stochastic system optimization using simulation and evolutionary algorithms.

Whirlpool and The University of Michigan Collaborate on a Simulation Project Using ProModel Software

Embarking on a simulation project can seem like a daunting task at times, especially if the project must be completed above and beyond one’s normal responsibilities.  During those times, it is beneficial to consider engaging a partner to help.

Of course ProModel provides professional model building and consulting services, but another alternative is to partner with a University that teaches ProModel, MedModel or Process Simulator.  This type of industry | academia collaboration is a win-win for both organizations.

Please check out this very successful simulation project by Whirlpool on which they partnered with the University of Michigan. The article was published in PlantServices.com.

Click here to see a list of colleges and universities using ProModel software products.  If you would like more information about our academic program, please contact us at education@promodel.com or 801-223-4601.

 

 

Get Ready for Fall Semester. Now is the Time to Add Simulation to your Curriculum!

Chrsitne Bunker Linked In

Christine Bunker Academic Program Director

Teaching simulation to your students will give them a head start when they reach industry. Learn some of the benefits of including simulation as you teach techniques for process improvement.

  • Accurate Depiction of Reality
  • Insightful System Evaluations
  • Dynamics for Predictive Analysis
  • Understand Interdependencies
  • Better Experimentation and Data
  • Animated Visualization
  • Advanced Optimization Techniques
  • Bottom Line Savings (Hard Dollar, Soft Dollar, and Labor Savings along with many Intangible Benefits)

For more details on any of these topics visit Justifying Simulation to understand the benefits of simulation.

Learn More about the ProModel Academic Program

To learn more about the academic program, please visit our website or review the ProModel Academic Overview.

If you’re interested in joining the growing ranks of ProModel educators or have any questions, please contact us at education@promodel.com to apply for a full professional license for academic use.

From Reality to Model

Adjunct Prof Mark Klee Headshot

Mark Klee; Adjunct Professor – Eastern Kentucky University

I know what you are thinking “From Reality to Model” shouldn’t that be the other way around? As an engineer at Toyota for the past 24 years I often encounter manufacturing processes that have slowly de-optimized. And now, just by walking by the processes on the floor, I can see waste (motion, waiting, over-processing). I know this means that the these processes need some work.

Our typical method of improving these processes would be to employ the traditional Toyota Production System tools. We begin with observation and time study. Then we use video for motion analysis making these processes visual on paper with standardized work combination tables, standardized work charts, and production capacity calculations. Through these simple analysis tools, the waste in the process becomes more obvious and begins to generate ideas for improvement.

This is typically done one process or one zone of processes at at time. It is also usually done with paper, pencil, and stopwatch. The methods have proven time and again to be effective for process improvement and an effective method of developing engineers as well as manufacturing floor members in process improvement.

After the waste is discovered and the improvement ideas generated it is time to try some improvement ideas. The process visualization and capacity calculation documents are then modified to simulate the improvement idea. Then it is time to try the modified process on the production floor. The concept is tested in a controlled environment. After success is documented, the process standards are modified the team is trained to the new standard.

Using ProModel works very well with the Toyota Production System and as a method for developing manufacturing engineers, manufacturing floor members and students in manufacturing focused curriculum. In Eastern Kentucky University’s Applied Engineering and Management class, we follow this progression.

  • We first focus on learning process observation and visualization skill using the standard Toyota Production System tools.
  • Next we learn the processes of implementing controlled change in a mass production environment. We learn and practice these skills on the manufacturing floor to gain real world experience.
  • After learning the basics of observation and improvement, we come back to the classroom where we employ ProModel to fine tune our processes and learn if there are any opportunities for optimization that may have been overlooked.
  • With ProModel we can also test scenarios that may be difficult to test on the actual production floor like moving a piece of equipment, modifying a cycle time, changing a conveyor length or changing a delivery frequency.
  • These trials can be done as quickly as you can change the numbers in the model allowing for many more cycles of trial and error or trial and success in a shorter time.

As a result of the course and ProModel, students have deeper understanding of both the theory and application of process improvement allowing them to be an instant contributor to a manufacturing organization upon their graduation.

In the end, deeply understanding the current reality through observation, documentation, and modification of the current process helps us make a more accurate model. The result of the more accurate model is further optimization. This deepens learning and the improvement cycle continues.

Brief Bio:

Mark Klee, BS Eastern Kentucky University 1990, MS Purdue University 1992
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky 1994-Present
Eastern Kentucky University Adjunct Faculty 2012-Present

Real-World Simulation Examples for Student Learning

Rajaei_Hassan

Prof Hassan Rajaei Ph.D. – Bowling Green State University; Department of Computer Science

Objectives

Simulation is a powerful tool for teaching students about the techniques as well as providing deeper understanding of courses such as networking, operating systems, operational research, just to name a few. Simulation is a well-known technique for evaluating what-if scenarios and decision making in industry, defense, finance, and many others. Students quickly realize these values and want to learn how to master this technique.

Teaching simulation techniques often requires attractive problem assignments. Real-world has numerous examples that excite students to study and motivate them focusing on their learning objectives. Further, it challenges them to develop models to reflect the reality. Clear examples can teach students how to collect data, develop the base model, improve it to advanced models, analyze the obtained results, and think about the usability of their simulation results. These learning outcomes can clearly demonstrate valuable educational objectives.

A simulation tool like ProModel has numerous example models in its library, but the educational objectives can be best achieved through step-by-step experimental development of useful samples. ProModel can be a great help by exploring the details of similar examples.

This article, presents an example where a group of students developed a simulation model for the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Students Union Cafeteria. Managing a university dining hall often exhibits challenges for the food services located in it. This study focused on reducing the average waiting time of the diners, while increasing overall efficiency of the services.

Simulating the Nest Cafeteria

This project focused on finding solutions for the Falcon’s Nest Cafeteria to increase the efficiency and decrease the average time of the customer spent in the system.

Overview of the Nest: Students cafeteria at BGSU functions as an important part of the University’s dining service. This cafeteria serves thousands of students every day. During the rush-hours of lunch and dinner, this place gets really congested with long queues contributing to long waiting times. In this simulation, the Nest model consists of five main components: Customers, Servers, Locations, Queues, and Cashiers.

Using ProModel: This tool was selected for multiple reasons: a) the availability; b) the course used the tool and trained students; c) the tool supports discrete-event systems; d) large number of library models; e) statistical analysis and output results; f) animations.

Problems Encountered: The main problem faced was lack of statistics and accurate information. Other barriers included project time limit and lack of deeper familiarity of ProModel.

Possible Solutions: Based on primary analysis, two potential solutions were feasible:

1) Increase the attractiveness of other food stations which have lower waiting time;

2) Increase number of food servers.

Three approaches to reach the goals:

a) Ask the SME to provide all data and statistics;

b) Make a very detailed model over the actual system;

c) Combination of (a) & (b) methods.

Approach c was adopted for the study.

Simulation Models

Four models were developed: 1) base, 2) intermediate, 3) advanced, 4) final

Base Model: The base model had very basic setups with one food station and one cashier. The objective was to test the station service and the customers’ arrival, and their flow in the system.

Intermediate Model: All food stations were added according to the Nest along with the logic for entities to move through the system with a shared queue.

 Advanced Model: The advanced model includes all queues targeting to obtain realistic statistics using several scenarios (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1:  The Advanced Model improved from the intermediate one

Final Model: After developing three scenarios, obtaining good confidence, making sure they were on the right track, students moved towards developing the final model shown in Figure 2. It was implemented using a time schedule to simulate the rush hour and normal operating hours.

Figure 2

Figure 2:  Final simulation model for the Falcon’s Nest Cafeteria

Results and Analysis

In this simulation, students first aimed to find an ideal solution to demonstrate how to reduce the waiting time. It turned out that such a scenario would need more implementation time. Instead, students focused on two solutions:

1) To make other food stations more attractive;

2) Adding additional workers to the top three food stations. Test cases were developed for each solution.

The result shown in Figure 3 demonstrate a reduction in the average time compared to the baseline, except Case 3. The figure suggests an 11.1% decrease in average time spent in the Nest.

Figure 3

Figure 3: Solution 1 demonstrating reduction of Average Time in the system

Next method focused on improving the waiting time by adding food runners to 3 populated stations. This method was simulated and tested with 4 scenarios, and was compared with the baseline.

Figure 4

Figure 4: Solution 2, advocating one additional worker at each food station

As was expected, by adding a food-runner to each station the average time of the customers would decrease, however, certain stations would benefit most. If case 4 is adopted, there would be a 12.6% reduction in time spent by customers. If only 1 food runner is added, then the result yields only to 6.1% decrease in average time spent in the system by customers.

Concluding Remarks

This article presents an example of a real-world case study conducted by a group of students as a term project in a simulation techniques course shared by senior undergraduate students as well as graduate students. An important result of this study demonstrates how deeply the students were engaged in their learning objectives of the course. In a short period of time, they conducted a complete case study including: observation, gathering data, analyzing the problem at hand, developing models, confirming with the subject matter expert, documenting, and delivering the results. The full article is published in ASEE 2017 Annual Conference.

Professor Hassan Rajaei Ph.D.  

Hassan Rajaei is a Professor of Computer Science at Bowling Green State University, Ohio.  His research interests include Distributed Systems & IoT, Cloud Computing, High Performance Computing (HPC), Computer Simulation, Distributed Simulation, with applications focus on communications & wireless networks. Dr. Rajaei has been active in simulation conferences (e.g. SCS SprintSim, WSC) as organizer as well as research contributor. Dr. Rajaei received his Ph.D. from Royal Institute of Technologies, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden and he holds a MSEE from Univ. of Utah.

Decision Support Tool Promotes Army’s Supply Chain Readiness

Two Department of Defense publications recently ran articles on the Army’s continuous pursuit of  supply chain excellence.  Our men and women in the military cannot do their jobs without the right materiel at the right place, at the right time, in the right quantity, and the right condition. ProModel Corporation is the software developer behind the Decision Support Tool (DST) featured in both articles.

Learn more about ProModel and our products, in booth #200 at the upcoming AUSA Global Force Symposium and Exposition on Mar 26-28 at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL.

Decision Support Tool Promotes Army’s Supply Chain Readiness

“DST gives materiel managers the capability to realign equipment on their property books to maximize readiness or fulfill high-priority requirements. A plan that once took days to create can now be completed in minutes. With just a few clicks of the mouse, property book officers can optimize their formation, synchronizing existing equipment on-hand against authorization.”

– Lt. Col. Rodney Smith, chief, Distribution Integration Division, DMC.

Read full Army.mil article

AMC (Army Materiel Command) Restoring its Atrophied Repair Parts Inventory

Using a new system called the Decision Support Tool that Army Sustainment Command runs out of Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., “for the first time in my career, we can really see ourselves, and so we know where every single piece of equipment in the Army is, whether you are in the active component, the Reserve component or the National Guard. It’s never been that way; it’s very powerful.”

Army Materiel Command – General Gus Perna

Read full Defense News article

Huntsville Utilities Knows How to Win Back Customers

Watch this presentation from the 2017 E Source Forum Conference given by Huntsville Utilities on how they rebuilt customer relationships and prioritized customer experience (CX). ProModel played a role in this turnaround as mentioned starting at the 6:40 mark.

Speaking of Huntsville Alabama – We will be at the annual AUSA Global Force Symposium and Expo at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL Mar 26-28. Stop by ProModel booth #200 and check out our latest products and releases.