Deutsche Version
  
Modified: 03.10.2005

 Success in simulation

An often heard complaint about simulation is that it is too inaccurate and in reality everything looks different.

To ensure success in simulation, be aware of the following factors:

 Simulation software

The last 10 years have shown dramatic improvements in simulation software. New concepts, easier handling and better development capabilities allow much higher precision in model building.

One decisive factor still remains not to rely on the included standard libraries. Those are designed to serve a variety of purposes. Realism and precision come only second. Assuming that real plants work the same way like objects in simulation libraries is one of the most frequent reasons for the failure of simulation projects.

Specialists only use special libraries. Because simulation should work like the real plant und not the other way round.

Please also keep in mind that even modern simulation programs still cointain enough bugs. Be it calculation errors, wrong implementation of stochastic functions or just plain bugs - in-depth knowledge of the simulation software used is essential. Some developers of simulation software even show the distrust in their own software by claiming that simulation does not deliver precise results.

Having 10 years experience with different simulation programs I will be pleased to give you independent advice about strengths and weaknesses of modern simulation tools.

 Input data

The old principle "garbage in - garbage out" is essential in simulation. 

Collecting and analyzing the base data as well as defining the processes is a decisive point to get good results. It is important to include as many people involved as possible, because the machine supervisor can deliver differnet information than the production manager. Analysing the base data usually gives all people a better understanding of the relevant processes. So often new ideas can come up even before you start building the model.

 Simulation specialist

The key factor is of course the simulation specialist. His duty is to compensate weaknesses of the simulation software as well as to support the customer in data analysis and process design. It is absolutely critical for the simulation specialist not only to have theoretical simulation know-how, but also to have at least several years experience in plant design and realization.

The following checklist shall assist you in selecting the right person:

Minimum qualification of a simulation specialist

Several years experience in plant design and realization

Experienced project manager

Excellent programming skills

Excellent mathematical skills

Capable of analytical thinking

Capable of understanding complex systems

 Costs

A bad simulation can cost you a fortune - a good simulation can save a lot of money. .

The costs of a simulation of course depend on the time needed. A lack of qualification of the simulation expert can easily lead to 10 times higher costs - not to speak of the quality provided. 

But also the use of the wrong simulation tool can result in a several times higher price. This has repeatedly been proven by comparisons with other (qualified!) simulation consultants. Even the price of a simulation software cannot be taken as measurement of its capability.

If you outsorce a simulation project always compare several competitors - the bandwith of price and quality is very wide in simulation business!

According to our own experience a simulation costs 0,1-0,3 % of the relevant sum of investment.

Repeated use of simulation and use of special libraries can lead to even much lower costs.

Please also keep in mind that the cost of simulation always includes some work of detailled planning and optimization that are also necessary without simulation. If you put this into consideration the remaining costs will often be neglectable. Anyway, even if you assume 0,3 % simulation costs - an experienced consultant should be able to show you enough optimization potential to get savings that are a lot of times higher than the initial costs.

 
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