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Process Improvement in a Job Shop

Process improvement in a job shop is challenging and can be time consuming, but is doesn’t have to be. ProcessModel has introduced a new model object that reduces the time to model to a fraction of what it was in the past. This model object also provides a way to  import new data in seconds.

Traditionally a job shop is a production facility is where various types of parts are produced across a subset of the population of machines. Each unique batch of part may require a a different path through the population of machines. A typical flow might be described by the following:

  • Batch 1: Machine 1, Machine 2, Machine 5, Machine 7, Machine 12
  • Batch 2: Machine 3, Machine 2, Machine 4, Machine 9, Machine 5, Machine 11
  • Batch 3: Machine 1, Machine 6, Machine 8, Machine 10
  • Batch X: Etc.
Process simulation of job shop flow.

Process simulation of job shop flow.

There may be hundreds or even thousands of possible flows.

Wait a minute… isn’t the description above similar to the flow of  patients through a hospital? Yes, in some ways it is every similar. The flow of a patient follows a path through a series of departments.

  • Patient 1: ER, ICU, Step Down, Observation and Recovery, Discharge
  • Patient 2: Surgery , Observation and Recovery, Discharge
  • Patient 3: ER, Observation and Recovery, Surgery , Observation and Recovery, Discharge
  • Patient X: Etc.

There are a host of other similar types of problems that follow the “job shop” concept of flow. There aren’t many simulations of job shop “type” facilities, because in the past it has been difficult and time consuming to create a simulation model.

Why is it difficult to create a process simulation of a job shop flow?

Well… to start with you may have to describe a hundreds or even thousands flows to develop a process simulation, right? Actually, no. That is a common misconception that stops people from trying. It is actually very simple to develop a model for a job shop and can be implemented in hours. Even more important, real data can be imported to show daily or weekly production. It is also possible to introduce new parts, with new flows and production times, without making a change to the model. The only change is to the input file, giving the routing sequence and time of production at each step.

One of the great reasons for using process simulation is to show what happens over a long period of time see the overview of bottlenecks for the entire system. In other words, I don’t care so much about optimizing the flow of a single part as I do optimizing the system to handle the typical production requirements. Process simulation is perfect for this type of analysis because weeks of production can be shrunk into seconds so that you can see what changes to your system will make a real process improvement.

How does this model object help in the development of a Process Simulation?

The job shop model object performs 3 main functions. First, it provides a template for how to construct a “Job Shop” type of model. The model structure is shown and the logic is provided that is needed to read imported the data that will drive routing and production times. Second, this model object analyses your data to list and import location names that will be used to route parts to machines or departments. These machine names will be used as descriptors in the attributes that describe the routing sequence. Third, this model object will analyze the flows of past production to create predictive patterns. In other words, the analyzer will read the data from the past to show what could happen in the future, giving variability to the quantity of orders and the routings. It will show what you could see in the future. It will also allow the introduction of new business. A 10% increase in orders could be introduced and the model analyzed to determine greatest needs to meet that increase.

Process improvement for a job shop just became a lot easier. This model object will help you to quickly implement a model and analyze your production flow for in depth process improvement of your Job Shop.

About the Author:

Scott Baird has been president of ProcessModel for more than 15 years. His focus has been to teach others how to improve processes dramatically. He has been successful in transferring these skills to over 200 companies, including ESPN, NASA, GE, Nationwide, Cendant, SSA and many more. Specialties: Group facilitation for process improvement, process design and simulation, simulation modeling, business management and training others to see opportunities. Scott loves to teach process improvement and has often been heard to say, “Of all the things I do, training others to improve processes is my favorite.” Scott is a father of four and a grandfather of eight. He is an avid woodworker, designing and creating presentation boxes. In his spare time, he volunteers in a college preparation program.


  1. Dominick Greene December 17, 2014 at 1:19 PM - Reply

    Very powerful software, it can support various simulation modeling methods and it has one of the best user interfaces available in the market.

  2. Vanessa Wallace December 13, 2014 at 7:20 PM - Reply

    Hi scot, I think to improve a business process, follow these steps.
    1-Map processes.
    2-Analyze the process.
    3-Redesign the process.
    4-Acquire resources.
    5-Implement and communicate change.
    6-Review the process.
    Keep in mind that you’ll need to improve most processes at some point. New goals, new technology, and changes in the business environment can all cause established processes to become inefficient or outdated.

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