"The representation of the behaviour or characteristics of one system through the use of another system, especially a computer program designed for the purpose."
That's the dictionary defintion of simulation, but how does it relate to logistics and materials handling? Since modern logistics began, managers have been looking for ways to accurately predict the effects of changes to a materials handling operation. Will moving a certain type of item to a different rack produce more efficient results, or just create new problems? With experience it's possible to make good predictions, but the complexity of a materials handling operation means it's very difficult to have a lot of confidence in them.
Technological solutions have been developed over the years, and today logistics simulation software is a sophisticated tool that can help solve this type of problem. This software can be used to create a digital copy of your warehouse, complete with your current fleet of trucks and typical levels of intake and dispatch.
Then, once the model is made, you can start making changes. The software can show you, for example, the time per cycle that could be saved by moving a certain item within the warehouse, using a different model of truck, or switching to another storage system. Almost any kind of insight you would want is available, and the dynamic simulation offers great accuracy by taking into account even small details that occur in your operation — such as the time taken for a driver to get on and off the truck, and how this would impact the operation on a large scale.
Simulation software is used to improve and expand existing warehouses, but it's also common when a new warehouse is being planned. Based on the ground space and height available in the planned building, many different solutions can be implemented and analysed with software, and the best solution found long before the construction work has begun.
If you're working to co-ordinate a large team of decision-makers, simulation can be vital. Creating a working simulation of a materials handling operation makes the proposed changes easy to understand and visualise for everyone on the team. This creates a common vision for everyone involved and gives a clear picture of the final result from the beginning with no misunderstandings, which can be an issue with large projects.
Now you know what logistics simulation is, you can learn a bit more about the benefits. Click the button below to read our guide The benefits of logistics simulation. Just give us a few basic contact details and it's all yours.