ProModel and MedModel 2014

Kevin Field

Kevin Field – Sr. Product Manager

In regards to this release, I would like to start out by saying, in the words of Nacho Libre, “It’s pretty dang exciting, huh?

With ProModel and MedModel 2014 we’ve tried to keep our current customers in mind as well as new customers. For current customers, the new logic windows with Intellisense and Syntax Guide should help you build models faster and easier. And being able to import graphics from third party graphic programs like Photoshop, Gimp, Paint.Net, etc. should even be more useful now that you can rotate all graphic types in the application. The improvements to the Debug window are a direct result of our work on the new logic windows.

For our new customers, the redesigned Getting Started panel (formerly known as the Control Panel) brings a lot of model building resources to the forefront. We have added new demo models and refreshed several of our previous ones. Did anyone even know we had a Quickstart video, showing you how to build a simple model and analyze results in 10-15 minutes? The most exciting part might be the How To videos our Support team has been producing for several months now. All of our customers will find these extremely helpful.

In this blog I am going to casually comment on some of the new features with the assumption that you have already reviewed What’s New in 2014 and perhaps even viewed the webinar I gave on this release. If not, you might want to consider doing so, otherwise…you can blissfully continue on with me…

New Logic Windows

It’s amazing what a few simple colors can do to help your logic be more readable. As we were developing version 9.1, I found it more and more difficult to go back to 8.6 and “drag” myself through the dreary old plain black text 🙂 It’s funny how refreshing it was to get back to 9.1! Not only the color but also line numbers really make it easy to quickly get around in the logic.









And if you don’t like our default color scheme or want to have something a little easier on the eyes, simply customize the colors in the Logic Color Selection dialog.








We also want to encourage good formatting in the new Logic windows by utilizing white space (spaces, line breaks, etc.) and indentation. Don’t be afraid of it! By automatically indenting and out-denting after begin and end brackets, we hope to make co-workers everywhere more willing to leap in and review your logic with you! Auto-formatting is something we are looking to improve moving forward.

Another thing we have made steps to do is deprecate certain logic elements. Begin, End, and the # comment are the main ones. Don’t worry though, they are not completely gone! They won’t show up in the Intellisense list but they will still compile if used in logic. Begin and End are easier to read and enter in logic if you use the “squiggly” brackets { and } instead. And we want to use the # character for other things like the new #region statement.

In fact, #region is one of my favorite new additions to 2014. I love the ability it gives you to section your logic and collapse it with a label describing what’s inside that hidden portion of your logic. I hope you’ll find it quite useful.

Intellisense and Syntax Guide

These new features are probably the heroes of this release. Intellisense brings every statement, function, location, entity, variable, subroutine (I’m saying every model element!) right to your fingertips. You should almost never have to remember your element names or copy them from one place in logic to another, or even leave a module to go look it up. Besides that, the days of completely typing any logic or element name are gone. This should increase your productivity by at least 10-15% 🙂 Are you with me on this?!


Intellisense coupled with the Syntax Guide should nearly make the Logic Builder obsolete. There may be a few things we need to add in order to make that happen. Please feel free to share any suggestions you may have. We tried to make both unobtrusive to your logic creation and editing. Because of this, we didn’t add an option to hide Intellisense or the Syntax Guide.





Debug Window

MORE THAN 3 LINES!! I think that’s all I need to say on that.

Ok, I’ll also say that debugging should almost be a joyous endeavor as you are now able to anticipate what logic may get executed next and better understand where you came from.

Routing Probability

I’m going to refer you to the webinar I gave on this new feature. In it I give a great example (if I do say so myself) of how simple it is to set up a routing probability for scenario analysis. One thing to remember, in order to use an array in the routing Probability field, the array must be initialized through an import.

Getting Started Panel

The new panel that appears when you start the program may primarily be geared toward new users, however current customers may find it just as useful. Access to the How To videos, online Help, and additional training resources (like dates of future ProModel training classes and a link to ProModel University, our online self-paced training).


If you haven’t taken advantage of your M&S contract and utilized our Technical Support team then perhaps the Getting Started panel will help facilitate this. They are a tremendous resource to assist you in understanding different techniques for modeling aspects of your systems, troubleshooting your models and helping you get out of the paper bag you may have coded yourself into, or just a friendly person to talk to 🙂 We like to call them your “ProModel Friend”.

Speaking of the Support team, they have done a tremendous job of generating a lot of How To and Solution videos for quite some time now. The short videos range from 2-5 minutes and offer useful insight into modeling techniques and other useful software tips. Let us know if you have any suggestions for more videos!

New Graphic Libraries

A final word about our new graphic libraries. In order to create new libraries containing EMF (vector-based) files, which scale nicely when zoomed, we had to support the rotation, flipping, and sizing of these image types within ProModel. This makes it so you don’t have to generate an image for every possible rotation or flip you need to have for your animation. This reduces the size of the graphic library and thus your model footprint as well. So with this new capability, you should be using a third party graphics program like Photoshop or Gimp (which is free) to create your graphics. (Or perhaps get your coworker to do it, just don’t tell them that I suggested it.)

I can’t talk about the new graphic libraries without mentioning Laif Harwood, a member of our Support team. Laif gets credit for creating all the new graphics in the libraries. And a fine job he did! So if you want any tips on how to do it for yourself, give our Support team a call!

Well, that’s all I have steam for yammering about today. Remember…you have a ProModel Friend that’s just an email ( or phone call away (888-PROMODEL).


Mitigating the Hawthorne Effect with Bruce Gladwin

Bruce Gladwin, PMP - Vice President, Consulting Services

Bruce Gladwin, PMP – Vice President, Consulting Services

With over 25 years of experience in the simulation field, Bruce has worked with major corporations worldwide developing hundreds of models across a wide range of industries. In his 19-year tenure with ProModel, he has served as a Product Manager, Senior Consultant, and Simulation Trainer. Bruce was named VP of Consulting Services in 2005 and has oversight responsibility for ProModel’s Consulting and Customer Service Operations.

Bruce received a BS in Systems Engineering from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Brigham Young University. He is a certified expert in Lean production principles and received his Six Sigma Black Belt certification while employed at General Electric’s Power Systems division.

Key projects include:

  • Capacity analysis for GE Energy Products Europe – determined the maximum production capacity for gas turbine components at GE’s European manufacturing facility resulting in a savings of $9.6M  in capital avoidance.
  • Design of a green-field manufacturing site for production of GE industrial generators – resulted in a savings of $1.2M in capital avoidance and identified the need for an accelerated operator training program.
  • Design and analysis of a disassembly process for the Russian-built SS25 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) in support of the 1991-92 START treaties between the US and the Soviet Union

Check out Bruce’s presentation on the Hawthorne Effect from the 2013 Winter Simulation Conference and his work with a major home improvement retailer…

ProModel on The Lean Nation

ProModel’s Bruce Gladwin (V.P., Consulting) and Dave Tucker (Director, LSS Initiatives) join web and radio host Karl Wadensten on “The Lean Nation” to discuss the benefits of ProModel Simulation in lean initiatives.  Enjoy!

Probing LEAN Space with Dave Tucker

Dave Tucker

Dave Tucker – Director, LSS Initiatives
Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Most companies have the same basic question they are trying to answer from a model project.  How can I make more stuff quicker?  Whether it is manufacturing, government, healthcare, or most any other industry, they all want to get more items through their processes faster and often they want to do it with fewer resources.  That’s the climate we are in now.  Everyone has to do more with less.

I have observed that many problems in Manufacturing can be directly attributed to having too much WIP.  Excess WIP inventory ties up money, creates the need for storage, increases cycle time, reduces throughput, and wastes Resources time.  But Managers want to keep everyone busy so they allow more work to be introduced into their systems instead of looking for Lean ways to better manage the “pull” of work.  Companies that learn to control the amount of WIP to meet their orders always do better financially then other companies that continually flood the workplace with inventory.

So I get excited when a model shows some new information that a company has never seen or understood before.  When they can see the process waste, understand how to remove it and implement the plan – that’s a great thing.

Check out Dave’s work on the Space Shuttle Program with United Space Alliance and NASA…. 


Dave Tucker is ProModel’s Director of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Initiatives and also serves as a Senior Management Consultant and Project Manager.  He assists our clients primarily by providing simulation training, model consulting services, and LSS implementation advice.  Prior to joining ProModel, Dave was the Lead Lean Six Sigma (L6S) Master Black Belt at United Space Alliance (USA), located at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  USA is the prime contractor to NASA responsible for the Space Shuttle Program.

Dave has over 25 years’ experience leading teams, mentoring employees, solving problems, conducting training, and improving operations. He has led more than forty Kaizen Events, completed dozens of process simulation modeling projects, conducted hundreds of training sessions, facilitated over two hundred Belts & Team Leaders, and assisted with the implementation of numerous process improvements saving millions of dollars.

Dave has an extensive background in numerous process improvement tools utilized in Lean Six Sigma DMAIC & DMEDI approaches, as well as Kaizen team methods and process simulation modeling.  He has about 14 years’ experience using ProModel process simulation modeling tools for process improvement.  In addition, he is a sought after speaker and has made many well-received presentations at Process Improvement, Simulation, Industrial Engineering, and Aerospace Conferences.  He has a BSBA in Management from the University of Central Florida.  Dave is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Certified Master Black Belt.

Ready to Turn Pro?

Get ready for quicker, easier model building with PCS Pro – a brand new level of Process Simulator combining its original ease of use with an enhanced feature set enabling faster model building, more complex processes and improved model maintainability.

Contact your ProModel Rep at 888.900.3090 or email us at for more information.



Simulation Uncovers the “Hawthorne Effect” in Distribution Center Operations Planning

Bruce Pic

Bruce Gladwin – Vice President, Consulting

The past 30 years has seen some dramatic changes in the ways we consumers purchase everything from books to batteries, cameras to clothing and TV’s to trampolines. The changes are not only in the products themselves, but in the channels of delivery. For example, when I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s the only chain businesses that I can remember were Sears and McDonald’s. Even then, you had to live in a fairly good sized town to have either of these stores. Today, any town of any size in America has not only a McDonald’s, but a Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Starbucks, Olive Garden, etc., etc. Yes, the chain stores have certainly replaced the mom and pop shops that were so prevalent just a generation ago. This change has led to an explosion in the number and size of distribution centers around the country and the folks running these DC’s are constantly looking for ways to get more product through their systems in less time and for lower cost.

I recently had the chance to work with one of our customers who was modeling a proposed layout change to their DC floor plan. The change was already being piloted in a particular DC, and a model was being developed to test the merits of the new layout under various product demand and mix scenarios. The early results from the real-life pilot were promising, showing that relieving forklift congestion could increase the throughput of the system, even if the forklifts had to travel longer distances to avoid congestion. As such, a change was about to be implemented in each of this customer’s DC’s across the US, at the cost of over $2 million.

My contact had the opportunity to use simulation to determine the expected improvement of the new floor layout in other DC’s throughout their network. To his surprise, the model predicted exactly the opposite results! Not only would the new layout actually reduce throughput, it would increase the operating cost of the system by requiring more forklifts and, hence, more drivers to maintain the previous level of productivity. How could this be since the real-life pilot was showing moderate (but not stellar) improvements? Enter something called the Hawthorne effect…

Stated simply, the Hawthorne effect is a temporary improvement in productivity that results when management pays greater attention to an established process. In other words, what gets measured gets done better and faster than it was before. In this case, the fact that the pilot area was the focus of management attention at this DC meant that the workers were unconsciously improving their performance. The simulation, on the other hand, was completely unbiased and used the same assumptions regarding forklift travel speeds, put and pick times, and operator work habits across both scenarios.

In the end, the existing system proved to be more efficient because the frequency and duration of forklift congestion events was less detrimental than the additional travel distance in the new layout that was required to eliminate those events.

In summary, whenever human operations are a significant part of a production process, consideration must be given to the methods in which physical simulations, i.e. pilot tests are performed on the floor. Otherwise, the Hawthorne effect just may result in a wrong (and costly) change to procedures.

In 2013 ProModel Celebrates 25 Years of Serving Customers!

Keith Vadas

Keith Vadas – ProModel President & CEO

The ProModel family would like to wish everyone a very joyous holiday season and a prosperous 2013!  We thank you for all your support and business in 2012.  As always, our goal is to help you meet or exceed your performance goals.  We hope that our people and solutions were able to assist you in that endeavor this past year.

2013 marks the 25th Anniversary of ProModel Corporation.  That’s a quarter century of providing solutions that improve performance for companies and organizations all around the world! It’s hard to believe how time flies, but it’s easy to see how ProModel has grown from a small company based on a single innovative simulation software product to an organization with a global presence and diverse solutions servicing virtually every industry from Government and Manufacturing to Healthcare and Academia.  It’s all due to the talented and dedicated professionals, both in the ProModel family and especially within our loyal customer base – so Thank You.

ProModel opened its doors in Orem Utah in 1988 thanks to Dr. Charles Harrell’s vision to provide an easy to use and affordable simulation toolset for non-programmers that could run on standard PC’s.  It has grown for 25 years because of strong customer support and feedback as well as innovative predictive analytic solutions.

We now provide an array of Rich Internet Application solutions like the ARFORGEN Synchronization Tool (AST) that helps the Army do all force planning for missions around the world, Decision Support Tool (DST) that helps Army Materiel Command source equipment for the troops  ensuring their readiness for the missions, The Navy Synchronization Tools (NST) help the Navy  optimize  F18  fleets and Enterprise Portfolio Simulator (EPS) which helps organizations optimize project portfolios with limited resources.

We also continue to improve upon our flagship ProModel, MedModel and ServiceModel suites as well as Process Simulator, our Visio Plug-In, based primarily on your feedback.

In 2013 and beyond we look to continue developing innovative collaborative predictive analytic solutions to help our customers make better decisions faster.  One example of this is Patient Flow Analysis, an application specific healthcare solution designed to make it easier and faster to solve hospital wide patient flow issues.   Keep an eye of for this solution in early 2013.

Here at ProModel we have plenty of good memories and valuable experiences to look back upon over the last 25 years, but we’d also like to hear about your experiences with ProModel.  What were some of the key decisions you were able to confidently make because of a ProModel solution?  Tell us about some of the most memorable and successful projects you’ve worked on with ProModel.

Thanks again, Happy Holidays, and we’ll see you next year!

Keith Vadas

President & CEO

ProModel Corporation

Lean and Mean at the AME

Dave Tucker

Dave Tucker – Sr. Consultant & Project Manager

I recently attended the Association for Manufacturing Excellence Conference in Chicago along with about 2,000+ others.  Another ProModel employee (Andy Schild) and I worked in a booth there alongside a Microsoft Visio Specialist.  Andy & I were there to demonstrate a simulation tool called Process Simulator that works inside of Visio.

I observed two things at the conference that I want to briefly highlight:

1. Lean is still a hot topic in Manufacturing.

2. Astronauts have the best stories.

First – Lean is still a hot topic.  I say this because the AME Conference agenda listed Lean or Lean tool sessions and workshops in 53 out of the 111 topics.  This is strong evidence that manufacturing companies are still eagerly interested in learning how to identify and remove waste from their businesses.  And many companies were there bragging about their success stories!  I also noticed that 26 out of the 45 vendors represented had the word “Lean” plastered somewhere on their booth displays.  Obviously, Lean still sells or vendors would change their approach.  Lean is still hot!  And of course, our company ProModel offers the best predictive analytics technology tools to help organizations identify waste, get Lean, and optimize their processes.

Second – Astronauts have the best stories.  Mark Kelly was the Commander of the final mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour in May 2011.  He is also the husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords who was shot in January 2011 at a rally in Tucson, Arizona.  As the final keynote speaker at the AME Conference, Commander Kelly told about his experiences growing up, serving as a pilot in the Gulf War, and his travels as an astronaut.  He recalled that one night while flying a mission over Iraq during the Gulf War, Kelly narrowly missed being shot down twice within just a few minutes.  As both Russian-made Surface to Air missiles approached separately, Kelly had to roll his F-15 jet thru a series of maneuvers to avoid being blown out of the sky.  Having been seriously rattled by the experience, he decided NOT to fly back home south to his aircraft carrier the same way he had come.  Instead, Kelly flew east over Iran and then started heading south towards the carrier.  After several minutes, he began to hear chatter on his radio that an Iranian pilot was heading towards American forces and was about to be shot out of the sky.  The radio called out the approximate position and airspeed of the Iranian pilot and Kelly thought “What a coincidence, that’s my airspeed and position.”  Two seconds later he realized that HE was the “Iranian pilot.”  So Commander Kelly quickly got on his radio and announced to US Forces “Please do NOT shoot down the Moron flying over Iran.  It’s me.”  Kelly then went on to emphasize the importance of communicating with your team especially when you deviate from the plan.  Again, Astronauts have the best stories!

Ut(ah)opian Road Works – Bruce Gladwin

Bruce Gladwin – VP ProModel Consulting Services

Road Works! Will they ever end? I have often wondered if and how the principles of Lean production could be applied to the never ending series of road works that seem to plague the otherwise beautiful environment that we enjoy here in Utah. Lately, I’ve had the chance to watch a full blown road-work-like project unfold outside my office window. There is (or used to be) an irrigation canal running through the middle of our office complex. I used to enjoy walking along the canal for a quick respite from the phones at lunchtime. This all came to a halt when the county decided to bury the canal and put a nice multi-use recreational path in its place.  Now, I’m sure that the pathway will be a wonderful addition to the community when (if?) it is finished, but it sure has been frustrating having to navigate the traffic disruptions throughout the construction process.

If you think about it, why couldn’t road works, or in this case canal works, be performed in a Lean manner? Do they really need to tear up miles of roadway all at once, and then lay all of the cables or pipe at one time, and then cover it all back up again. I think not. In fact, I believe this current “batch process” could be transformed into more of a “single-piece-flow” and thus, avoid a lot of headaches for everyone. Here’s the idea: take a small section of roadway and begin to dig the trench, all the while having a second team of workers right behind laying cable or pipe, followed by a third team of workers covering it all up. Is it unreasonable to think that all of this work could be done within the span of a single city block? The principles of Lean production would say that it can and should be done that way. The work just needs to be balanced such that the rate of trench digging equals the rate of cable or pipe laying, which also equals the rate of trench filling and repaving. I’m confident that this could be done and, in so thinking, I have just challenged myself to create a simulation model in ProModel that shows just how it all could work. In the end, wouldn’t it be nice in your locale if only one block of the city could be under construction at a time? Can anyone out there point me to a good example of road works that were finished on time, with minimal disruption to traffic? What were the success factors?

Mastering Complexity – Dave Tucker

Dave TuckerA recent article highlighting the top ten manufacturing trends for 2012 projected by the International Data Corporation (IDC) stated that “success in the intelligent economy will be achieved through engaged corporations.” The article goes on to specify that engaged corporations are those “that will master complexity.” Bob Parker, group vice president of IDC said that “If you are better at mastering complexity, you’ll have a competitive advantage.” So how does a company excel at mastering complexity?

Part of my experience dealing with complexity comes from having invested over 20 years working on the Space Shuttle Program. The Space Shuttle is the most complex aircraft in the world. And until recently, the Shuttle fleet served as the primary launch vehicles for sending American astronauts into space. The Space Program is full of complexity not unlike manufacturing and most other businesses. Through hundreds of improvement projects spanning across two decades, I had the privilege of assisting many dedicated aerospace workers that were eager to streamline and improve cumbersome processes.

In order to ensure success and remove complexity, I saw that teams and successful companies needed several things:

1. A focus on instilling simplicity
2. Champions that provide guidance
3. Robust tools that assist with analysis
4. Innovative ideas and the power to implement them

Today the focus on instilling simplicity is called “Lean.” One of its basic tenets is to identify and eliminate waste within a process. You can’t get any simpler than that. And while there are many Lean concepts and techniques, my experience is that they all come back to that very basic concept: get rid of stuff in your processes you do not need — remove the waste!

It is a given that some improvement Champions are needed in Senior Management within a company. Without at least one high level Executive leading the way towards process improvement, many “bottom-up” programs quickly die when pushed only by “front-line” employees frustrated with the lack of change. Besides Senior Champions, companies successful at process improvement also provide specially trained staff to assist project efforts throughout the organization. Some companies call these professionals various titles including: Improvement Coordinators, Process Specialists, Black Belts, Master Black Belts, Master Champions, etc.

The third requirement to master complexity and be successful is to have robust tools for data analysis. As a process improvement professional with over 30 years’ overall experience, I can honestly say that the most impressive tools I have used for process improvement are discrete-event simulation applications. These tools allow the user to create a “model” of a process that simulates a real process using a personal computer. The model is loaded with actual process data and once validated, it provides a vehicle for the user to run various “what if” scenarios and help determine the best actions to make improvement. This has been called “predictive analytics.” Simulation tools are appealing because frankly it is much cheaper and easier to try out ideas on a computer than in the real world.

A fourth thing companies need to master complexity is innovative ideas and the power to implement them. In my experience, every employee already knows a lot of ways to improve their key processes and streamline their job. We have very smart workers in U. S. businesses today. The challenge is getting their management to listen to them and empower them to make change.

Organizations that learn how to reduce and master complexity in 2012 will likely find themselves prosperous and successful for many years. As Mr. Parker at IDC has said “We are changing to the engaged organization.” Will your company make the change?