In most cases only simulation is applied to compute the performance indicators of a given design alternative of a flow production system. To develop and use a simulation model in order to produce statistically significant results takes a lot of time. First, a simulation model must be developed.Depending on the complexity of the structure of the material flow and the availability of templates provided by the simulation system, this may take a significant amount of time. In addition to the development of the model logic usually also an animation view of the modeled flow production system must be designed. For example, the model logic for a flow production system with converging material flow defined with the Arena® simulation software looks as follows:

For the same flow production system, the user could have defined the following animation view:

After the model hase been constructed, the simulation experiment is performed. This may be very time-consuming. For example, a single detailed simulation of the design of a car body shop may last about five to ten minutes on a fast PC - even if the animation is deactivated.

As a planner who is trying to find the optimum system configuration will have to perform multiple simulation runs, and as his time usually is limited, he will confine his attention to only a small number of all possible system alternatives. And these do not necessarily include the optimum solution.

As an alternative, for flow production systems analytical performance methods are available, which provide the required performance measures within milliseconds.