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How is simulation achieved?

Explore the ways in which simulation is accomplished.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

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.

Your task

What methods, if any, are you most familiar with? Share your thoughts in the comments.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Simulation for Logistics: An Introduction

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