Selecting Simulation Software

Most products are general use and are a good fit for most organizations.  A few products are tailored for a specific set of simulation applications (i.e. automated material handling systems, healthcare, CPG, etc.)  Statistical reporting, and animation can vary across products , but ease-of-use is similar.  Before committing to a simulation software, below are four software features that you should evaluate.

#1 Model Development Approach:  All products require some programming skill.  But the products vary in steps required to convert your conceptual model to a computer model.  And all have similar mechanisms (tables) for entering model infrastructure data.

Process Driven:  Model built by selecting command blocks that replicate conceptual model’s process map.  Sample Commands: Queue, Delay, Get (resource).

Routing Driven:  Model built by entering entities, locations, and other model constructs into tables, then connecting the model logic through a process routing table.  Sample Tables:  Location, Entity, Processing, Arrivals.

Object Driven:  Model built by placing different types of objects on the layout, then connecting the objects.  Sample Objects:  Machine, Queue, Transporter.

#2 Statistical Reporting:  Today’s simulation software reflects numerous statistical distributions, provides acceptable random number generators, and collects desired output metrics.  Some products, though, require that you select each model output metric, or that you export the output data to an external statistical product for analysis.

#3 Animation:  All products provide 2D animation, but a few also provide 3D animation.  2D is sufficient for most simulation users.  For some organizations, 3D is needed for getting the leadership team to trust model results.

#4 Runtime Version:  Members of your team will want to experiment with developed models. But buying a full license for each team member, at ~$20,000 per license, is not practical.  Some vendors, though, offer runtime version of their software at a significant discount.

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