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  • By Andrew Aitken
  • In Blog
  • Posted 09/07/2015

Andrew Aitken looks at the role of simulation in supporting complex manufacturing processes

As we continue the climb out of the economic canyon of the last few years, manufacturers can now start to focus on future growth through the optimisation of current practices to determine the most effective production strategy for their business. However, when it comes to complex manufacturing processes, this is often easier said than done. What can, at first, seem to be a straightforward change management project, can turn into a labyrinth of tactical and strategic decisions, all of which can have a huge effect on the organisation as a whole.

Without a doubt, manufacturing processes can involve high levels of variability, where making a seemingly mundane change to one part of the production line can have a major effect on the bottom line. Therefore, redesigning operations to ensure the success and the future growth of the business can be very challenging and, if done incorrectly, very costly.

In order to mitigate the risk of proposed changes, many manufacturing businesses are turning to simulation software to thoroughly plan and optimise production. Simulation means that organisations can model highly complex scenarios quickly and easily, factoring in an extraordinary amount of variables, to visualise and analyse different improvement options. Real-world testing of these many and varied options would be risky and costly, with the potential to expose a business to unnecessary financial risk. But by mapping and analysing the entire spectrum of production variables across a particular operation, simulation software facilitates an understanding of the complex relationship between processes at multiple and various stages, testing different scenarios to find the ones which optimise production.

Without concrete evidence or facts of how proposed changes will benefit a business, it’s often difficult to secure the buy-in (financial or otherwise) of the rest of the organisation. When planning major business change, such as large-scale capital investments, the level of testing that stakeholders need to give realistic confidence levels is neither technically feasible or commercially viable. In situations like this many of the world’s best - and most complex - firms turn to simulation to provide the decision confidence they crave within a virtual test world.

The use of simulation software to evaluate all proposed operational scenarios ensures that the right decisions are made quickly and, more importantly, accurately, resulting in greater confidence that processes will deliver intended performance at minimum cost to the business.

Right-first-time is no longer a pipe dream when it comes to managing and supporting complex manufacturing processes. In fact as more and more manufacturers get on board with the benefits of simulation, right-first-time is becoming the only way to achieve first mover advantage and differentiation in an increasingly competitive world.

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