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Benefits of packaging line simulation

Philip R Lyman, Dir. Simulation, and David Burgos, Lead Packaging Engineer CRB Consulting Engineers, Inc., presented discussion of the advantages of packaging line simulation during Pharma EXPO.

The two described alternate scenarios for planning new packaging lines or updating existing lines: traditional approach vs. using simulation software. For new packaging lines, the goal is cost avoidance; for existing packaging lines, the aim is cost reduction.

Packaging line benefits of simulation, said the presenters, include easier and more cost effective to manipulate a computer model compared to the real world; the ability to evaluate multiple “what if” scenarios; enable managers to understand the impact of variability; the ability to capture the uncertainty and randomness of the process; and enable managers to analyze interaction with a systemic view.

For a new facility, simulation can help establish the appropriate size and number of machines. It can help in evaluating the layout/staging space/traffic patterns, in determining the location of bottlenecks, in evaluating proposed design changes, and in creating scheduling rules.

For an existing facility, simulation helps managers improve scheduling, identify/remove bottlenecks, manage intermediate inventory and staging spaces, and test out efficiency improvements.

The presenters offered some best practices when it comes to implementing simulation:

• All involved in the project should agree on objectives

• Make simulation as simple as possible, but no simpler

• Validation should be conducted using historical data if possible

• Dollarize the results—speak management’s language

This last best practice is intended to help managers make a more effective case for capital spending, using simulation to present metrics. Management buy-in will be more likely if the results of a simulation are presented in terms of potential savings.

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