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Avoid Real Mistakes with Simulation – The Case for Operation Simulation

In today’s world, there are numerous risks that any organization faces on a daily basis. From operational risks, such as supply chain disruptions and market fluctuations, to cyber threats and internal frauds, risk is present in almost every sector of the economy. With businesses looking for ways to reduce risk exposure, simulations have come to the rescue across many fields.  Operations management (OM) is a field that incorporates various aspects of running an organization efficiently and effectively, and it is no less subject to failure risks than any other area. To ensure that companies remain efficient and cost-effective within their operational constraints, operations management uses simulation as a tool to simulate real-life business conditions so that organizational learning can be optimized with minimal risk exposure.  Better to learn through simulated errors and issues than their real-world counterparts.   Let’s explore how operations management is using simulation as an effective way to manage risk.

Using Simulation to Manage Operations Risk

Simulation makes it possible to predict the potential outcomes of any event and use that data to manage risk. In its most basic form, simulations are used to model the behavior of elements in a system, such as customers, suppliers, or employees. This can be done using a wide variety of simulation tools, including computer software (sim platforms) or hardware systems (PLC, Pi-based controllers, etc.). In recent years, operations management has begun to leverage simulation for more than just assessing risk; it is also used as a way to optimize learning. Simulation provides an opportunity for managers to test different scenarios on their own time before they actually implement them in the real world. Using this approach allows organizations to optimize their learning while minimizing risk exposure in real-life business conditions. The benefits of implementing simulations into an organization’s operations management processes includes improved decision making through additional (albeit simulated) learning opportunities and reduced risk exposure.

The Benefits of Operations Simulation

Simulations are the perfect tool for learning, and learning with minimal risk. They help you understand complex issues by providing multiple solutions to each scenario. For example, let’s say that a manufacturing company is experiencing a decrease in production output and is wondering why this is happening. If you were to conduct a simulation, you could test various factors such as different production rates, machine efficiency, material prices, raw material purchase size and frequency, defect rates, and more with hypothetically different scenarios to determine which factor or combination of factors is most responsible for the decrease in production. In another simulation instance, let’s say that an organization wants to know how much inventory they should order so that they can ensure they never run out of stock. A simulation would help them test the optimal levels of inventory so that the company isn’t risking falling into situations where their supply chain could be interrupted due to a lack of stock. In addition to learning from simulations, operations management also utilizes them as stress tests on new systems before implementation or upon scaling up or down during organizational growth or decline. This helps optimize organizational decision-making with minimal risk exposure and provides valuable insights for avoiding real-world errors.

The Role of Operations Simulation in OM

Simulation is used in operations management to manage risk in several different ways. First, simulations are used as a tool for operational improvement. As organizations learn how to reduce risks, they also optimize the efficiency of their operations. This can be done through simulation by optimizing resource utilization and building more efficient processes. Second, simulations are used to evaluate potential financial consequences of events such as market fluctuations and supply chain disruptions. The costs of these events are evaluated using data from historical simulations so that organizations can determine the difference between what might happen if the event occurs and what will happen if it doesn’t occur at all. By using simulations as a tool for evaluation, companies can identify how much risk they are exposed to before taking any actions or making any decisions that could affect their bottom line. Third, simulation is used to prepare for potential changes in the business environment such as technological innovations and competitive threats. By simulating different scenarios for different possible outcomes, you can better prepare your organization to handle a variety of changes in its environment.

Why Operational Simulations Are Used as a Tool for Managing Risk

Operations management is an increasingly important field in today’s business world. There are numerous fields within operations management, including manufacturing, supply chain, logistics and procurement. As such, operations management can be a complex field for any company to master, which can lead to high risk exposure for the organization. To help mitigate these risks, operational simulations have been employed as a way to manage risk by simulating real-life business conditions. As digitalization becomes more prevalent in the business world, companies are turning to simulation as a way to test new digital solutions and maximize operational efficiency while minimizing risk exposure. With a simulation model implemented as part of an operations management plan, companies are able to understand how potential changes would affect their overall business objectives and analyze potential outcomes before making any significant changes in the operation.


The use of simulations in operations management is indeed an effective way to manage risk. The more complex the operation, the higher the value of any simulation to avoid real-world failure.
—Shankar Narayan & Bryan Jensen, St. Onge Company

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