A mathematical simulation model was used to assist 5 farmers in developing design criteria for inclusion of robotic milking systems in each farm situation. The barn layout influences arrivals of cows to the milking robot as well as other cow traffic and must be carefully planned. Each farmer had individual objectives and consequently unique design criteria that determined the optimal solution. Planning factors addressed by simulations on these farms included: 1) optimal cow cooling locations; 2) optimal facility allocation in expanding dairies; 3) concentrate feeder locations and feeding management; 4) number of feeders--based on expected rations; 5) use of a robot in an open cowshed without free stalls; 6) number of robots needed, currently and in the future; 7) eight robots working in harmony; 8) robot locations that allow for expansion; 9) floor space needed in each barn section including maternity and veterinary treatment areas; 10) location of bottlenecks that limit efficiency or expansion; and 11) cow traffic routine as affected by management practices, feed allocation, and farm layout. The simulation allowed farmers to receive a course in managing a "virtual robotic milking farm" before installation of the barn. Therefore, each could be more confident that his future barn would work properly under his unique local conditions and management practices. One farm checked 2 yr after construction achieved an average daily robot utilization of 84%, nearly matching the 85% projected before the barn was built. Important variables considered in the simulations were facility allocation, cow space needed in each farm area, robot utilization, number of cows, milk yield, milk flow rate, feeding method and timing, robot location and orientation, and farm physical layout.