University of Maryland

CIM Lab collage

The Computer Integrated Manufacturing Laboratory is a constituent laboratory of the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland.

A Module for Quickly Modeling Pull Production in Arena

The pull production module can be used in Arena to quickly construct simulations of kanban production lines.

Project Team:

Project Summary

This project developed a kanban workstation module which significantly reduces the time required to develop a pull production model, which makes simulation more useful as a decision-making tool in rapid improvement events.Production permissions are represented in the module by kanban cards; all the overhead for tracking cards is managed internally, while providing flexible options for entity creation or input from an external source. The modeler only needs to include a single, easily customized module to represent each workstation, and thus can put together a complete model with much less effort than if it were to be developed from standard Arena components.

The kanban workstation module achieves a significant reduction in user effort. Based on the number of inputs required, a user building a simulation model with this tool should be able to complete initial construction in less than half the time he or she would have required when using conventional means. This savings is accomplished mainly by automating the process of filling in repeated module parameters such as the name, and allowing Arena to manage naming and tracking of all the required resources. Comparisons to other types of model demonstrate that use of the module does not increase the computing time required to run a model; in fact, models built with the module run faster than all but the most low-level (and, correspondingly, least user-friendly as far as the interface goes).

The targeted use of this simulation construction tool is the kaizen rapid improvement event; due to the short timeline and frequently complex models involved, any time that can be saved in the construction of a simulation model can make a big difference in the overall success of the project. The ability to quickly and easily create and adapt simulation models makes it possible for more concepts to be evaluated in a short time. Simulation can then play a larger role and provide better support for decision makers, and will improve the outcome of the project.

User Interface for Module Module Design
Module user interface Module design


Mark A. Treadwell and Jeffrey W. Herrmann, A Kanban Module for Simulating Pull Production in Arena, proceedings of the Winter Simulation Conference, Orlando, Florida, December 4-7, 2005. (Updated version posted August 9, 2005.)

Copyright Notice: This paper has been submitted for publication. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint or republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from the copyright holder.

Download Files

Download the Kanban Workstation Model as an Arena template:

Download the Module

Arena 13

These files should work with Arena 13. (Thanks to Rienk Bijlsma for converting them for us.)


To install, run Arena. In an open model, right click in the template panel and select "Attach..." Alternatively, from the File menu, select "Template panel >" and "Attach...". Navigate to the location where the file (Workstations.tpo) was downloaded, select it, and click "Open".

To use, drag and drop template icon into workspace. Connect the module to others in the usual fashion and double-click to select the appropriate values to customize the module. Any set of workstation models must start with a module marked as a "Begin Station" and conclude with an "End Station." All modules between these must be "Normal stations." Preceding stations must be selected where relevant in order to direct the release of kanban cards when a part enters a process.

Last updated by Jeffrey W. Herrmann, December 1, 2011.
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