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Two Awesome ways to Use Process Simulation in Lean Six Sigma

Posted by kyle toppazzini on Tue, Jul 31, 2012

Lean Six Sigma, Sigma, Lean, Process, AssessmentI cannot begin to tell you all the benefits with the use of process simulation tool in a Lean Six Sigma intervention. I have been using process simulation tools ten years ago and I am always amazed at how process simulations can be used to win the hearts and minds of employees and front line staff. This blog will talk about two incredible ways to use process simulation in a Lean Six Sigma Project.


1. Validation of the process and process data

Employees who have not gone through an exercise of mapping out the process or measuring it often have their own interpretation of what the process is like. With a process simulation tool we visually show how work flows through a process and, validate the process data we collect. Here are the exact ways I go about validating the data.

(i) Modeling

Each of the processes are modeled and an assessment is conducted using process simulation software. Using the software validated processes are assigned process times and resources, based on interviews conducted with employees. In addition, all other information collected during the data collection period of a project is used as an input into the model. For example, 1) data is used to assign the appropriate volume of daily, weekly, and monthly work to each of the sub-processes, 2) Error rates is inputted into the model and resource costs is assigned to each resource type, and 3) each resource type is assigned one of the two shifts (if shifts exist), e.g. 7 a.m.-3p.m., 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and each shift includes breaks and a lunch period.

Based on the availability of data collected during the data collection period, each sub-process is simulated for a multi-day period and the baseline costs are annualized based simulations.

(ii) Simulation and Re-Calibration

Once the baseline model is developed, validation statistics, such as lead and cycle time, batch size, along with other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), e.g. Perfect Order, defects per 1000 and processing costs, are programmed into the simulation models.

The validation statistics served two purposes: 1) Used to determine the accuracy of the inputs in the model; and, 2) Along with the use of KPIs to analyze bottle necks, process constraints, cost drivers and key opportunities within the process.


2. Assessment of the what if scenarios

During the Improve phase of the Lean Six Sigma project, we use the validated process simulation models to conduct an assessment of the performance of a process under various scenarios. For example, what would happen to cycle time, productivity and costs if we automated the process or eliminated certain non value added activities.

Each of the scenarios is then created in a process simulation model, and the process performance is compared against the baseline.

Although you likely still want to conduct a pilot, the process simulation model allows you to assess (in a risk-free environment) which of the process improvements you will want to test via a pilot.

Closing Thoughts

In this short blog, I have provided two great ways to use a process simulation model in your Lean Six Sigma project. In your next Lean Six Sigma project, you may want to consider leveraging the power of process simulation.


Want to learn More about how to use process simulation in Lean Six Sigma?  Downlaod this White Paper

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Valuable Resources


The following URLs provide great additional information on Lean 6 Sigma


Toppazzini and Lee Consulting Lean 6 Sigma Consulting  at -Lean Six Sigma Consulting


Linkedin Six Sigma Group at


ISixSigma web site at


ASQ web site at


Topics: sigma, lean, Process Simulation, Lean Six Sigma, Assessment, process, Process Modeling