An Introduction to Simio for Beginners

by C. Dennis Pegden, Ph.D.

This white paper is intended to introduce Simio to a user new to simulation. It is intended for the manufacturing engineer, hospital quality engineer, logistics specialist, six sigma black belt, lean system manager, etc., who would like an overview of how Simio can help improve system performance. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the use and benefits of simulation, the basic concepts of modeling, and how to get started using Simio in your decision making.

What is a Simio model?

Simio is a tool for building and executing dynamic models of systems so that you can see how they perform. Simio “acts out” and displays a 3D animation of the behavior of your system over time. Simio lets you see your proposed systems in operation before you build them or change them.

Although simulation and animation have been around for many years, Simio makes modeling dramatically easier by providing a new object-based approach. You select objects from libraries and graphically place them in your model. Objects represent the physical components in your system such as workstations, conveyors, and forklift trucks in a manufacturing facility, or the gurney in an emergency room of a hospital system. Object-based modeling is a very natural and simple approach to simulation modeling.

Simio makes 3D animation a simple and natural part of the modeling process. With Simio you can have a truly immersive 3D experience. You can layout your model with realistic spatial relations that accurately mimic your real life system.

What things can you model?

Simio can be used to model a wide range of systems including manufacturing, healthcare, supply chain, transportation, defense, and mining. Although these systems are all unique in their own respect, from a modeling point of view they are very similar. In all of these systems we have entities (work pieces, trucks, passengers, patients, etc.) moving through a system that is constrained by resources (machines, pathways, security check points, doctors, etc.). To model these systems you model the flow of entities through the system and the resources that constrain that flow.

The systems that we model can be proposed systems that have yet to be built, or they can be existing systems for which we are considering changes. In either case the modeling process can provide significant benefits. The model is used to verify that the system will perform as expected.

Although many people accept the critical role that simulation plays in analyzing investments in new systems such as new manufacturing facilities, emergency rooms, etc., simulation also plays a critical role in process improvement applications. Many organizations apply techniques such as Six Sigma and Lean to analyze and improve their existing systems. Simulation is a natural adjunct to these activities by providing a way to analyze and test out proposed system improvements.