Discrete event simulation is a powerful technique for optimizing processes and making confident, evidence-based decisions.
A simulation is an animated model that mimics the operation of an existing or proposed system, like the day-to-day operation of a bank, running an assembly line, or assigning staff in a hospital or call center.
How does simulation work?
Using intuitive simulation software like SIMUL8, you can build a visual mock-up of your process, similar to creating a flowchart. By adding timings and rules around the tasks, resources and constraints that make up your system, the simulation can accurately represent your real process.
Simulation offers a powerful, evidence-based approach to decision making – by using a virtual representation to test the impact of process changes and ‘what if’ scenarios, you can find an approach that delivers the best results.
“Simulation does exactly what it says. It mimics what happens in real processes.
For example, if you take a customer in a store when they reach the checkout and all the likely behaviours – whether a server is available or busy, if there’s a queue of five people – by adding more customers to the simulation, you can then see what will happen on a busy Saturday afternoon.
You can then determine how many staff to employ, and quickly you’ll even find you can predict the behaviour of a huge supply chain of hundreds of factories, each with thousands of product lines and employees.
By mimicking the behaviour of each part of the process as it interacts with other parts, you can understand how the whole system will perform and try alternative ways to provide resource capacity or innovative ways to improve performance.”
Key features of discrete event simulation
Visual and interactive
Simulation is visual and animated, allowing you to easily see what’s happening in a process as time progresses.
It’s also interactive, so you can quickly adapt it in any way that you might consider changing the real process.
As simulation can run through time much quicker than real life, you can simulate days, weeks or years of a process in seconds.
This enables you to evaluate the long-term consequences of any changes and decisions you make.
“What if” scenario testing
Simulation allows you to compare different configurations under the exact same circumstances.
By testing different ideas, you can choose the approach that will provide the best performance for key metrics in your process.
Unlike other process analysis methods, simulation includes variability to reflect real life and improve accuracy.
For example, contact center calls arrive in peaks and troughs, rather than evenly throughout the day or week.