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Welcome to this introductory short course on simulation for logistics.
Some of the simulation techniques that we’ll be covering in this module, for example Monte Carlo, they’ve been around since the late ’40s, for example within the Manhattan Project where they were designing the atom bomb. And then, we’ll be using some software, simulation software, that utilises Monte Carlo, and they were used in the United Kingdom car industry to design factories in the late ’70s. So, this technology and the techniques, they’ve been around a long time. So, the question is why is that and why is it even more important nowadays, in terms of decision making support, to use them?
I’d like to think about it generically as how do you consider for simulation as a capability of the people, the process and the tools capabilities in combination with each other. So, if we consider supply chains currently, where manufacturers are particularly focused on their core competencies and therefore they outsource the majority of the value-add in their supply chains - we also see the supply chains extended over the entire globe in some cases - then that brings a lot of complexity and also risk into them.
If we look three years, five years, 10 years into the future, it’s going to be really hard to try and predict that without using simulation in terms of the performance of these logistics systems and supply chains. And if we consider the capital expenditure involved in some of these decisions which are millions of pounds, tens of millions of pounds in some instances and then the operational expenditure as well that we have to consider, if we get the decision wrong in the design of logistic systems then we’re talking hundreds maybe even thousands of jobs or even the entire company being at risk.
Time to market for products, that’s shrunk to a matter of six months or a year for mobile phones and laptops and so on. How do we accommodate the need to change so frequently? Any business small, medium or large is always going to be managing change in some way shape or form. Anything from how do we bring in new technology, how do we bring in new products or how do we react to different market changes, for example, in terms of customer demand or signal was or quantities or otherwise.
So, if you’ve got a value stream that’s already currently in operation and you’re looking at making a change then simulation and modeling can give you that the high level of confidence that change is going to deliver the benefit you intended to. How do we align the design of products to the design of the processes and also the logistics systems that support them? How can we predict the impact on these systems from all of the external forces and factors that play on these supply chains? From political, economic, social and technological disruption. How can we improve existing operations without disrupting activities? And how can we envisage future logistics systems when they don’t even exist yet?
So, these are some of the questions that we’re going to be answering by the end of this module and we hope you’ll enjoy it.

Welcome to Simulation for Logistics: An Introduction.

Please watch the above video in which Jim Rowley and Tim Williams-Wood, Chief of Digital Manufacturing at Rolls Royce, talk about the importance of simulation and some of the simulation techniques that you will be exploring in this program.

This is the introductory two-week course for the program Simulation for Global Logistics, which forms part of the MSc Global Logistics online degree at Coventry University, delivered on FutureLearn.

This 10-week program is made up of five two-week courses, followed by an additional period to submit your assessment – details of which can be found on the assessment tab of the program page. The program page also gives you access to live tutorials, student support sessions and further study resources and services.

System requirements

To take part in the practical exercises in this program, you will need to download a free student version of Arena from the official Rockwell Automation website. Please look at the system requirements to ensure that you can take part. These are also available in the downloads section at the end of this step.

This week

Through this week’s activities, you’ll explore:

  • What simulation is
  • Why, when and where simulation is needed
  • The ability of simulation to solve logistics problems
  • The simulation steps that can be applied to simulate systems

Meet the team

Your lead educators are Ammar Al-Bazi and Jim Rowley from Coventry University.

You can follow your lead educator and see all the comments that they make by selecting the link to their FutureLearn profile page.

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Simulation for Logistics: An Introduction

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