In the scheduling literature, estimation of job flowtimes has been an important issue since the late 1960s. The previous studies focus on the problem in the context of due date assignment and develop methods using aggregate information in the estimation process. In this study, we propose a new flowtime estimation method that utilizes the detailed job, shop and route information for operations of jobs as well as the machine imbalance information. This type of information is now available in computer-integrated manufacturing systems. The performance of the proposed method is measured by computer simulation under various experimental conditions. It is compared with the existing flowtime estimation methods for a wide variety of performance measures. The results indicate that the proposed method outperforms all the other flowtime estimation methods. Moreover, it is quite robust to changing shop conditions (i.e., machine breakdowns, arrival rate and processing time variations, etc.). A comprehensive bibliography is also provided in the paper. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.