How is simulation achieved?
Now that we’ve covered where simulation can be used, let’s consider the methods that are available for simulation.
Simulation can be accomplished in several ways:
- By hand (see Buffon’s Needle experiment)
- Spreadsheets (which we’ll cover in a later short course)
- Programming in general-purpose languages (eg Java, VB.Net or Python)
- Simulation packages (eg, Simul8, Arena, ProModel or FlexSim)
What is in a simulation program?
There are particular features that are found in most simulation programs, which you need to be aware of to really understand how simulation works. These are:
- Simulated time: a variable that keeps track of simulated time.
- System ‘state’: variables maintained by the simulation program that define the condition or performance of the system – for example, tracking the number of pallets in a queue.
- Events: points in the process when a system changes state – for example, the arrival of pallets into the queue, departure from the queue, or when a forklift changes from busy to idle.
What methods, if any, are you most familiar with? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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