Simulation is the process of creating an abstract representation (a model) to represent important aspects of the real world. Just as flight simulators have long been used to help expose pilots and designers to both routine and unexpected circumstances, simulation models can help you explore the behavior of your system under specified situations. Your simulation model can be used to explore changes and alternatives in a low risk environment.
Simulation has been successfully applied to many applications. Cost savings and/or cost avoidance in a typical simulation project are often 10 to 20 times the initial investment within four to six months of initial use.
Systems where it is too expensive or risky to do live tests. Simulation provides an inexpensive, risk-free way to test changes ranging from a "simple" revision to an existing production line to emulation of a new control system or redesign of an entire supply chain.
Large or complex systems for which change is being considered. A "best guess" is usually a poor substitute for an objective analysis. Simulation can accurately predict their behavior under changed conditions and reduce the risk of making a poor decision.
Systems where predicting process variability is important. A spreadsheet analysis cannot capture the dynamic aspects of a system, aspects which can have a major impact on system performance. Simulation can help you understand how various components interact with each other and how they affect overall system performance.
Systems where you have incomplete data. Simulation cannot invent data where it does not exist, but simulation does well at determining sensitivity to unknowns. A high-level model can help you explore alternatives. A more detailed model can help you identify the most important missing data.
Systems where you need to communicate ideas. Development of a simulation helps participants better understand the system. Modern 3D animation and other tools promote communication and understanding across a wide audience.