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.