Simulation consists in imitating the operations of a real-world or a hypothetical system over time. It allows to accurately represent both the physical and logical aspects that characterize and govern complex environments (in logistics, intralogistics, manufacturing, etc…).
Simulations require the use of models. These are developed with general purpose or specialized tools that permit to describe process dynamics through basic building boxes.
The most intuitive advantage of simulation is the possibility to follow a "what-if" approach, that is the opportunity to use the simulator as a test environment to inspect the behavior of a complex system before implementation. This type of analysis allows to compare different scenarios and to evaluate the expected outcomes under different hypotheses (e.g. variation of a parameter, modification of a process or policy, increment of an input flow, uncertainty, etc...).
Two are the possible roles of a simulation model:
- Support the design of systems and processes before realization;
- Support the operations, with an online virtual copy of reality (digital twin).
Simulation, eventually combined with optimization techniques, permits to improve the efficiency. It helps to avoid costly mistakes, allowing to identify problems and critical issues before they actually happen.