Happy Holidays!

President & CEO ProModel Corporation

Keith Vadas – President & CEO ProModel Corporation

The ProModel family would like to wish everyone a very joyous holiday season and a prosperous 2015!  We thank you for all your support and business this past year.  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.

2014 was a busy year for ProModel filled with exciting new products like Process Simulator Pro, revamped new releases of ProModel, MedModel and Enterprise Portfolio Simulator, and of course our custom solutions designed for a host of clients across all industries. As most of you know, we have an extraordinary team of consultants and software developers always available to help your organization meet the next business challenge. Looking ahead, 2015 is shaping up to be another BIG year here at ProModel as we continue to develop new products including Healthcare solutions and other business improvement tools. 

Thank you, and I wish you and your families a happy holiday and a joyful New Year.

 

Team ProModel Conquers Ragnar Once Again!

Team ProModel at the Finish Line

Team ProModel at the Finish Line

The 2014 Ragnar Relay Recap…according to Jay Wisnosky, Tim Shelton, and Pat Sullivan

So there’s this event  where 12 people team together, split up runners into two separate vans and then run a 200 mile relay. It’s called the Ragnar Relay.  Yes, that’s how it first gets explained to you…

Then you get more information like, “you’ll have to run about 15-18 miles tops. It’s tough and there’s a lot of hills, but it’s a lot of fun.”  Fun?

https://www.ragnarrelay.com/

“12 friends, 2 vans, 2 days, 1 night, 200 mile relay…unforgettable stories.”  This is Ragnar. Pat Sullivan’s blog about Ragnar began with this quote last year, and I think it summarizes the event for the rest of us still.

But to get a true picture of Ragnar, you really have to put yourself in a white, 15 person passenger van with 5 other people. It’s close quarters in there. It goes from clean one minute to trashed the next and never smells good or is quiet enough to sleep. Some people are your co-workers, some are friends, and some are complete strangers. You then have to imagine you are about run anywhere from 4 to 8 miles – it’s now YOUR turn. Whatever routine you had to get ready to run at home is gone…replace that with stretching in a van surrounded by running shoes and gym bags. This is when you start to get nervous because you’re in unfamiliar territory, you’re excited, but also tired, and there’s a good chance you have to go to the bathroom from all that water you’ve been drinking. This is when you hope you trained enough. This is when you tell yourself that after this leg, you still have two more to go…and you probably won’t be sleeping between them. This is when you say, “what did I get myself….” and then one of your teammates asks, “what do you need? Some water? Something to eat.” And you relax, knowing that the collection of people in that van are with you -they have your back and will help you through it, even if you are wishing you trained for this a lot harder than you actually did.

Kelly handing off to Jason

Kelly handing off to Jason

Another year, another ProModel Ragnar team built on commitment, dedicated teamwork and a great mixture of veteran leadership and new, eager faces.  From October  24-26, Team ProModel meshed as a team in one of America’s most grueling endurance races. The Chattanooga to Nashville Ragnar Relay undoubtedly demanded an often extraordinary level of dedication and sacrifice.  The twelve person 2014 team consisted of team captain Tim Shelton, (ProModel Sr Army Program Manager), Pat Sullivan (ProModel VP for Army Programs),  Dan Hickman (ProModel CTO), Clay Gifford (ProModel Developer for DST), Jay Wisnosky (ProModel Technical Writer for DST) Brian Brown, Susan Whitehead, Sheri Shamwell, Mickelle Penn, Kelly Parker,  Lisa Reyes and Jason Mcormick.  And of course, with a great deal of support and commitment from Keith Vadas and Carl Napoletano…and the incredible effort of Christine Bunker (ProModel marketing) and                                                         our awesome driver (Chief Reyes).

Lisa Reyes kicked off Race day at 07:30 Friday morning at a beautiful waterfront setting on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga.  Each runner was scheduled to follow for three legs during the estimated 34 hours to complete the race.  We planned for each of our 12 runners to complete 16-19 miles each.  The two vans of Team ProModel met briefly through the race, with 5 intersection points where the baton was handed over from one van to the next.

Lisa Reyes going uphill

Lisa Reyes going uphill

Miles and miles passed with each runner facing his or her own set of obstacles. Some ran steep hills (Brian Brown climbed 1300 feet in elevation over 8+ miles with his first leg), or through the wee hours of the night with the sounds of dogs barking (and growling sound machines coming from another van) as Mike Penn would come to experience. Others came down the other side of those steep hills and endured the bright autumn mid afternoon sun – which Pat Sullivan can now vouch that 9 miles of beautiful Tennessee countryside is sometimes blurred by surprising heat.  However, Team ProModel banded together to support each other, as well as other runners from other teams.

 

 

Dan Hickman feeling strong...on his first leg

Dan Hickman feeling strong…on his first leg

There were plenty of laughs in between – often times over snack choices, foot odor, getting passed on the course by 12 year olds, bathroom strategies, sore muscles that make you walk funny, and delusions caused by lack of sleep. We spotted the little known Ragnasaurus, our vans were “branded” with magnets and paint from other teams, some people gained nicknames, and we all learned the value of fast restaurant service and having a bed instead of a gym floor to rest.

Team ProModel made it 198 miles through the mountains, into the rolling hills of Tennessee and eventually to the Music City that is, Nashville. This group grew to become teammates and friends, after starting out with one common goal in mind – just run and have fun! Thanks again for the great support and allowing us to represent ProModel…know you would have been proud.

Susan Whitehead with the Ragnar Bear

Susan Whitehead with the Ragnar Bear

Tim Shelton running his last leg

Tim Shelton running his last leg

 

 

 

 

Lisa Reyes, Brian Brown, Dan Hickman, Tim Shelton, Kelly Parker

Lisa Reyes, Brian Brown, Dan Hickman, Tim Shelton, Kelly Parker  

Knight Runner

Knight Runner

Dan Hickman, Clay Gifford, Pat Sullivan, Tim Shelton, Jay Wisnosky

Dan Hickman, Clay Gifford, Pat Sullivan, Tim Shelton, Jay Wisnosky

Dan Hickman hands off to Tim Shelton

Dan Hickman hands off to Tim Shelton

Team ProModel 2014

Flanagan Industries Brings New Facility Online Thanks To ProModel Solution

Flanagan Industries is a major contract manufacturer of aerospace hardware specializing in highly engineered and high value machined components and assemblies.  Over the years their manufacturing operations had been growing steadily to the point where they absolutely needed additional capacity . The original space was not conducive to a manufacturing environment and had become an impediment to taking on more business and staying competitive in the global economy.  So Flanagan decided to expand by opening a new facility that could house bigger and better machinery, however they needed to ensure that the move to the new location would not disrupt their current operations and customer orders.

In the video below, see how Flanagan used a ProModel Simulation Solution to successfully bring their new facility online:

 

 

 

Demystifying System Complexity

Charles Harrell, Founder ProModel Corporation

Charles Harrell, Founder ProModel Corporation

One can’t help but be awe struck, and sometimes even a little annoyed, by the complexity of modern society. This complexity spills over into everyday business systems making them extraordinarily challenging to plan and operate. Enter any factory or healthcare facility and you can sense the confusion and lack of coordination that often seems to prevail. Much of what is intended to be a coordinated effort to get a job done ends up being little more than random commotion resulting in chance outcomes. Welcome to the world of complex systems!

A “complex system” is defined as “a functional whole, consisting of interdependent and variable parts.” (Chris Lucas, Quantifying Complexity Theory, 1999, http://www.calresco.org/lucas/quantify.htm) System complexity, therefore, is a function of both the interdependencies and variability in a system. Interdependencies occur when activities depend on other activities or conditions for their execution. For example, an inspection activity can’t occur until the object being inspected is present and the resources needed for the inspection are available. Variability occurs when there is variation in activity times, arrivals, resource interruptions, etc. As shown below, the performance and predictability of a system is inversely proportional to the degree of interdependency and variability in the system.

Untitled-1

Suppose, for example, you are designing a small work cell or outpatient facility that has five sequential stations with variable activity times and limited buffers or waiting capacity in between. Suppose further that the resources needed for this process experience random interruptions. How does one begin to estimate the output capacity of such a system? More importantly, how does one know what improvements to make to best meet performance objectives?

Obviously, the larger the process and greater the complexity, the more difficult it is to predict how a system will perform and what impact design decisions and operating policies will have. The one thing most systems experts agree on, however, is that increasing complexity tends to have an adverse effect on all aspects of system performance including throughput, resource utilization, time in system and product or service quality.

For Charleys new blog

ProModel and Medmodel are powerful analytic tools that are able to account for the complex relationships in a system and eliminate the guesswork in systems planning. Because these simulation tools imitate the actual operation of a system, they provides valuable insights into system behavior with quantitative measures of system performance.

To help introduce process novices to the way interdependencies and variability impact system performance, ProModel has developed a set of training exercises using an Excel interface to either ProModel or MedModel. Each exercise exposes the initiate to increasingly greater system complexity and how system performance is affected. Additionally, these exercises demonstrate the fundamental ways system complexity can be mitigated and effectively managed.

ProModel is offering these exercises to students and practitioners who are seeking an introduction to simulation and systems dynamics.

 

For more information please contact ProModel Academic

Sandra Petty, Academic Coordinator  spetty@promodel.com

Same Venue, Different Challenges

Weeds Pic

Rob Wedertz – Director, Navy Programs

Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the Tail Hook Association’s annual conference in Reno, Nevada.  It is the first time I attended the conference not as an active duty member of the Naval Aviation community, but as a vendor supporting the enterprise through our role as the software application provider of the Naval Synchronization Toolset.  Surprisingly, other than keeping much different hours and standing on the opposite side of the booth table, the conference felt much like it did every year I have attended in the past.  There were many “so what are you doing these days?” conversations with old friends and the ever-present aura of “Naval Aviation is special because…” throughout the exhibit hall.

In fact, had I not taken the opportunity to attend some of the panels and engage some of our key stakeholders in pointed conversations it would have been extremely difficult to differentiate this year’s conference from any other I had attended over the last 2 decades.  There was a new vernacular that weaved its way into this year’s conference.  Words like “sequestration”, “draw-down”, and “budget constraints” permeated the Rose A ballroom, and for the first time in many years, I sensed a palpable uncertainty among the leadership of Naval Aviation as they extolled the virtues of tail hook aviation’s role in the world theatre against the backdrop of future shoe string budgets and unknown war fighting requirements.  (Ironically, the Air Boss told a poignant story of a “nugget” strike fighter pilot from CVW-8 expertly delivering ordnance in the fight against ISIS the same day the morning news detailed the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan as “hostilities in the Middle East come to a close”.)

Given the environment we’re in and the abundance of questions marks hovering over the next several years, it should come as no surprise that many attendees, including most of the NAE leadership took a great deal of interest in the “little” ProModel booth nestled among missile mock-ups, Joint Strike Fighter simulators, and high-tech defense hardware displays.  In fact, as one of the very few (if not the only) predictive/prescriptive analytics software vendors in attendance at Hook ’14, we were an anomaly.

Tailhook '14

ProModel’s Keith Vadas and Carl Napoletano speak with VADM Dunaway, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command

 

A common theme emerged during our discussions with visitors and through comments made during the various panel discussions – decisions must be made via actionable data, courses of action must be modeled and validated, and technology-enabled decision support applications must be agile enough to get an answer in short order.  Thus the interest in ProModel.

While the Naval Synchronization Toolset is in its infancy from a relative viewpoint (we achieved initial operating capability just a year ago), ProModel has been delivering enterprise-wide decision support tool capabilities to its customers (both private and DoD) for over 25 years.  As industries have evolved (adopted Lean Six Sigma methodologies, harnessed data collection and aggregation, and leveraged emerging technologies) so has ProModel.  We have learned, alongside our customers, that there is significant “power” in diminishing uncertainties through “what-if” analysis and exploration of alternatives via technology-enabled decision support tools like the NST.  The questions the NAE gets asked have answers and it is discovering that getting there is a matter of adopting a philosophy that centers around modeling the behavior of the system, deciding on dials (variables), and exploring the alternatives.

The NST is that system.  Through our integration efforts with Veracity Forecasting and Analysis, we have delivered a software application that establishes the demand signal (the Master Aviation Plan module), models the behavior of the system (Carrier Strike Group Schedule, Air Wing Schedules, and Squadron Schedules), models the behavior of elements (the Airframe Inventory Management module) the utilization of the FA-18 A-F inventory over time, and provides a “sandbox” environment that facilitates optimal disposition of assets in order to meet the requirements of the NAE over time.

We heard, during our attendance at Hook ’14, that the optimal management of the FA-18 inventory was one of the focal points of the NAE leadership.  And although we’ve been involved in the development efforts of the NST for more than 2 years, it is the first time that the challenges of inventory management have taken center stage at a venue that has long been unchanged and timeless.  We felt privileged to be among the professionals in attendance at Hook ’14 and even more proud to be an integral part of the solution set to Naval Aviation’s challenges going forward.  We’ll be back next year and hope that the NAE is no longer talking about it.

Busy Season at ProModel

Keith Vadas

Keith Vadas – ProModel President & CEO

I am pleased to report ProModel’s second quarter was very positive.  Like many businesses in the US we find ourselves on a serious upswing this Summer of 2014.  Our consultants are working on several projects in a variety of industries, including ship building, power management, retail, manufacturing, food processing, and government contracting.  In all of these projects our experienced team of consultants is working to improve efficiency, save money, and make better decisions for their clients.

ProModel’s DOD projects continue to thrive.  It is hard to believe it has been eight years since we started working with FORSCOM (US Army Forces Command)   on AST (ARFORGEN SYNCHRONIZATION TOOL).  LMI-DST (Lead Materiel Integrator – Decision Support Tool) with the LOGSA Team (US Army Logistics Support Activity) is also going strong.  Our agile team of software developers keeps improving the development process within ProModel and it shows. Just recently the NST Airframe Inventory Management Module was Granted Full Accreditation by the Commander, Naval Air Systems Command.

The time is also ripe for opportunities in Healthcare.  Our patient flow optimization capabilities are perfect for helping hospitals and outpatient clinics improve efficiencies.  Now that the Affordable Care Act has been around for a couple of years, its impact is being felt by healthcare organizations around the country.  The expanded insured-base, and the need for improved processes and different care models is making it absolutely necessary to consider the value of modeling and simulation.  ProModel continues to work with several facilities including Presbyterian Homes and Services, and Array Architects who enhance the flow in Healthcare Facilities design by using MedModel simulation in their design processes.

To better support our base of existing customers, we just released ProModel/MedModel 2014 in July and PCS Pro 2014 at the end of Q1.  EPS 2014 (Enterprise Portfolio Simulator) was released in Q2  and includes a new easy to use, web-based rapid scenario planning tool – Portfolio Scheduler.  You can check this tool out online at – http://portfoliostud.io/#.

There continue to be lots of exciting things happening at ProModel.  We have an outstanding team of consultants and software developers-designers just looking for an opportunity to PARTNER with you to help you meet the next business challenge, or solve the next unexpected problem.

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.

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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.

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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?!

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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.

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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).

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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 (support@promodel.com) or phone call away (888-PROMODEL).