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  • By Mandy Tague
  • In Blog
  • Posted 16/03/2012

Mandy Tague, Director of Business Development, Lanner Americas, looks at how WITNESS’s Excel Interface makes simulation accessible to the whole organization.

Creating Simulation Groups within an organization takes time.

There is usually a driving business issue that will bring a group to simulation, when spreadsheet analysis isn’t able to deal with the complexity, variability and connectedness of the issue at hand and when too much is at risk for capital expenditures to be based on instinctive decision-making.

Simulation addresses these issues in an intuitive way, providing a solid foundation to base decisions, along with a framework to experiment with the possibilities of the business. To build groups internally each team member adopts different roles: The Modeler, The Experimenter and The Implementer.

The Modeler will have the capability to build the model; many times they come from an operational research or industrial engineering background. They will specialize in building simulation expertise and will know the science of simulation and how to apply it to business problems. At a certain point in the project there will need to be engagement with the Business Users, from Plant Designers to Upper Management, who will want to interact with the model. The Business Users will be asking a wide range of questions, from looking at how production levels can be improved based on spikes in demand to proving why a certain capital expenditure will improve business over the next 3 to 5 years.

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Once a model path is developed there are no limits as to what can be done and who can be involved. A key feature of WITNESS is it’s Excel Interface, which can be used to present the results generated by the WITNESS model. The Excel Interface is a useful tool, which can be used to involve the rest of the team in a model without having to invest in simulation modeling training – although Lanner does offer an INTRO to EXCEL day! Non-users are able to view the business in a way that makes sense to them, so when they are experimenting and producing results, they can also understand the impact and know how to implement the results into the business. It is so important that everyone on the simulation team has a firm understanding of the business process, but in terms of simulation modeling, only the Modelers need to know the “how to”.

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By using Excel Interfaces to support a WITNESS simulation model, global groups are coming together to make business decision where they never were before. And I think that’s pretty neat!


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