The benefits of simulation in manufacturing are much like those realized in flight simulation. Flight simulators allow a pilot to gain experience without the risks, time, and costs associated with training using actual equipment. A pilot learns essential skills through his experience with the simulator. He can make mistakes in a simulated environment, and learn from those mistakes without suffering the consequence of those actions. Both skill and decision making abilities are enhanced, resulting in far greater safety and efficiency.
Like flight simulation, process and system simulation is undertaken to:
- Improve the understanding of how a system operates.
- Lessen the cost associated with experimenting on the real system.
- Minimize the risk of error when dealing with actual or proposed systems.
However, process simulation differs from flight simulation primarily in methodology. In flight simulation, the simulator and the pilot interact very closely throughout the simulation. In process simulation, decisions are predefined by the modeler in the form of decision rules and operating variables. In addition, process simulation is performed in compressed time instead of real time. This allows the modeler to run the simulation of a system thousands of time faster than real life, and to run multiple experiments on a system in a short period of time This can help to increase the understanding of the system at an exponential rate.
When To Simulate
Simulation is generally considered to be a worthwhile endeavor when the following conditions apply:
- The system lends itself to modeling. This means the process is well understood, can be defined by a flowchart, and the operation times and rules can be described. This allows the modeler to study improvements without disturbing the actual system.
- High volume and/or low volume with high dollar and high capacity rate. Shipping terminals, warehouse picking, and complex aircraft components are some excellent examples.
- System complexity can be difficult or impossible to define on a spreadsheet. Simulation allows you to look at all system interactions and how they impact each other.
- In some cases you need to visualize the process. 3D animation allows you and your customers to really “see” what will happen.
The uses of simulation are limitless. Manufacturing, material handling, baggage handling, warehousing, supply chain, food processing, healthcare, shipping ports, and lean manufacturing implementation are just a few of the applications modeled within Flexsim. Flexsim provides the most graphical 3D, user-friendly simulation environment available on the market today.
Advantages of Simulation
- When planning a new system from the ground up, simulation permits a hypothetical system to be evaluated when it does not yet exist.
- Simulation provides an excellent means of communicating ideas by:
- providing a graphical representation of the system being studied,
- incorporating 3D animation that allows you to visualize the process. This provides greater understanding of the challenges and operating characteristics,
- integrating animation that allows management to view proposed changes and provides a means for greater buy-in by the management team.
- Simulation also provides an educational tool for teaching operators and process supervisors how the system will operate. Management, scheduling, maintenance, and operational strategies can be explored with increased understanding of the complex interactions that exist in the process’ systems. Simulation provides a method for learning how to use problem solving techniques.
There is no excuse not to take advantage of the benefits of simulation. Many who have questioned the values of simulation are amazed at the insights they have received with just a short modeling experience in Flexsim. Instead of spending time justifying simulation, more and more managers are recognizing that the rule should be to simulate every time. What you can potentially learn from gathering the data needed to create the simulation is often justification enough, let alone the insights gleaned from the actual simulation study.
If you have simulation needs that are not being addressed, please contact Flexsim and get a quote. You might be surprised just how affordable and informative a simulation project can be. Please call 801-224-6914 and ask for Flexsim’s consulting services.