Reduce Risk and Commissioning Time With Simulation
March 9, 2021
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crystal ball that shows which combination of technologies, software and process modifications will best optimize your distribution center (DC) operations? Until paperweights become more reliable prognosticators, consider the next best thing: DC simulation.
As a powerful experimentation tool, DC simulation can reduce risk, bolster performance, and highlight growth opportunities by allowing multiple solutions to be tested, refined and validated virtually before buying and implementing them. Real-world performance can be modeled with high accuracy. Simulation enables operations managers to determine which solution may most efficiently meet key performance benchmarks, respond flexibly to unanticipated changes, and deliver the optimal return on investment (ROI).
Simulation: It’s Different From Emulation
Often used interchangeably, the terms simulation and emulation actually refer to two different analysis methods:
- Simulation models system behaviors and performance by using a set of mathematical, logical and physics-based inputs and assumptions to calculate a system’s anticipated response. This allows hundreds of possible scenarios to be tested quickly. As a result, the most efficient designs and processes can be identified before any physical system is built.
- Emulation, a physics-based approximation, uses the actual machine control code (or other software) that will ultimately direct specific material handling equipment (MHE). By precisely duplicating the responses of the machine, emulation enables software code to be validated much earlier in the project lifecycle, before on-site work begins. This significantly streamlines installation and commissioning.
Benefits to Your Operations
Unlike the mythical crystal ball, both simulation and emulation deliver multiple visions of the future — giving the viewer the ability to choose their facility’s optimal path. In addition to supporting more effective decision-making based on potential outcomes, other benefits include:
- Risk reduction. With virtual simulation, DC operators gain a much better understanding of how systems will work, what quantifiable improvements they’ll receive, and how quickly ROI will be attained.
- Quicker commissioning. Because bottlenecks or other issues can be identified and proactively corrected ahead of time, a road map for achieving the real-world version of the system can be plotted, speeding up implementation and minimizing troubleshooting while reducing overall costs.
- Digital visualization. Many warehouse simulation technologies integrate animated depictions of what the system will look like while operating, which can be a compelling tool when seeking stakeholder support.
- Future-proofing. By running a variety of scenarios, or simulation experiments, an existing system can be prepared for challenges before they arise, such as peak season variability, changes in consumer buying patterns, equipment breakdowns, and other disruptions. Likewise, the system can be virtually tested to assess its ability to handle additional capacity and derive higher efficiencies.
While simulation and emulation tools are powerful resources for testing and optimizing system or process changes, having an experienced partner to guide the usage of this technology can ensure that each model accurately reflects the reality to follow. Read this On The Move article to learn more about how Honeywell Intelligrated leverages simulation to help you get the clearest view of your operational future.
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