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Advantages and disadvantages of simulation

Tim Williams-Wood, Chief of Digital Manufacturing at Rolls Royce, describes some of the benefits of using simulation and modelling.
Simulation modelling really allows us to do a couple of really key things. One, it takes that assessment of the change away from the reality of the real system itself. So, in that sense it really adds value by de-risking the system that may well already be running. You can start to look at what are the extended parts of the process that might be implicated by the change. You’re starting to then give yourself a virtual world where you can test different scenarios. So, you might have three or four different proposals on how you might change your manufacturing system and you can try all of those in this risk-free virtual environment and each one might give you different results.
So, you’ve got an ability to change certain factors and work out things, for example like how sensitive is a change to a particular key process or maybe a level of demand coming from the customer. One of the key factors that you can really start to address here as well is the fact that the costs involved in some of these changes can be quite significant so you can also start to validate whether or not you are spending the money in the right place you actually start to then optimise for cost and for productivity in this virtual world and the key thing is then you develop a solution and test and validate it in the computer that gives you 1) the right level of benefits that you’re predicting your need to support the business model and secondly you actually start to get a really optimised cost model where you spend money or where you actually run the system at a very optimal level of custom value so all those things can be taken up from proven offline and actually give you this higher level of confidence of the change itself.
One of the key things is that when you launch the change you want to be highly confident that it will actually deliver the business benefit and the business value the products in your simulation.

In the video above, Tim Williams-Wood, Chief of Digital Manufacturing at Rolls Royce, describes some of the benefits of using simulation and modelling.


  • Simulation allows you to explore ‘what if’ questions and scenarios without having to experiment on the system itself.

  • It helps you to identify bottlenecks in material, information and product flows.

  • It helps you to gain insight into which variables are most important to system performance.


  • The quality of the analysis depends on the quality of the model and the skills of the modeller, who requires specialised training.

  • It’s a time-consuming and expensive process, so should not be used if an analytical method can provide quicker results.

Your task

Can you think of any other advantages and disadvantages that we have not mentioned above? Share them in the comments below.
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Simulation for Logistics: An Introduction

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