How satisfied are you with the way your operations are planned? Does the performance of your operations meet your expectations? Are you using an Excel spreadsheet or a piece of paper to plan your activities?
Many organisations struggle with these questions. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this. There is a better way and it can do wonder for your operations. Thanks to computer simulation technology, you can now test a schedule or a plan ahead of time to see the performance it’s going to have in the future. And if you’re not satisfied with the projected performance, you can change the plan before it’s put into action. This computer simulation tool allows you to virtually run your operations ahead of time, at full speed and without disturbing the actual operations.
How is that possible? What about the unexpected, the unforeseen, the unplanned? How do you account for those? What about the variability in my process? The activities don’t all require the same time.
In a computer simulation model, unexpected events are assigned probabilities of occurrence. For example, parts, employees or patients are assigned probabilities of being on time and probabilities of being late by certain amounts of time. Activities are assigned durations based on probability distributions. For example, it normally takes around 10 minutes to do this but when it goes very well it can take 8 minutes and when it goes very bad it can take as much as 20 minutes. All this configuration is done during the initial implementation of the computer simulation tool.
When you execute the simulation of your plan, the software generates random events and durations based on the assigned probability distributions. So the virtual operations in the computer are running very similarly to the way the real operations will run. And the performance at the end will be very similar. It is then easy to change the plan and test it again with the simulation. So when you put the plan into action, you have a much higher degree of confidence in its outcome.
On top of improving the performance of your operations, this improved process also increases your level of understanding of the way your operations run and what makes them tick.