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KEY FUNCTIONALITY & TECHNICAL PAPERS
SOA - Simulation On Demand
Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) with the predictive power of Simulation
Six Sigma and Simprocess
XML portability in Simprocess
External/Remote Capability
Database Interface
Business Process Maturity Assessment
 
ADD ON's
Optimization and Simprocess
Unified Modeling Language (UML)

What's New in Simprocess 4.1

PRODUCT FEATURES

  Product Description
  Activity-Based Costing
  Activity Modeling Constructs
  Activity Browser
  Resource Modeling Constructs
  Knowledge Management with Reusable Templates
  Icon Manager
  Web Publishing of Process Models
  XML - Model Files
  Customizable Real Time Plots
Advanced SIMPROCESS Features
  Attributes
  User-Defined Attributes
  Expressions
  Expression Editor
  External/Remote Capability
  Database Interfacing
  Built-In Interface for Defining Experiments

  Activity-Based Costing
Activity Based Costing (ABC) is a technique for accumulating cost for a given cost object (i.e. product, service or customer) that represents the total and true economic resources required or consumed by the object. The goal of ABC is to mimic the causal relationships among Resources, Activities, and Entities in Assigning costs. Resources perform activities to add value to products and services. The key to understanding cost dynamics in any enterprise is modeling the relationship between activities and their causes; and the relationship between activities and costs.

Significant value of the ABC analysis in SIMPROCESS comes from the dynamic analysis of costs based on the event-driven simulation. Because SIMPROCESS keeps track of resource interdependencies and captures the random nature of processes, the cost statistics provided by SIMPROCESS are far more accurate than results obtained from static analysis. The hierarchical modeling approach of SIMPROCESS facilitates this organization and accommodates varying levels of detail for ABC analysis.

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  Activity Modeling Constructs

Entity Related - These Activities coordinate groups of Entities and includes:
  • Assemble. Receives two or more Entities and assembles them into a single Entity and releases the Entity.
  • Branch. Routes Entities through different Connectors of the model network.
  • Merge. Routes Entities from different Connectors onto one Connector.
  • Batch. Stores Entities until conditions set by the user are met, and then releases the Entities into one batch. The Entities emerge as a single unit, but retain their individual idEntity.
  • Unbatch. Separates a batched Entity into its constituent parts (Entities).
  • Split. Divides an Entity into parent and child Entities that can undergo parallel processing.
  • Join. Reunites families of Entities that were created in Split Activities.
  • Transform. Transforms an arriving Entity into a different Entity type, and releases one or more Entities of the new type.
  • Clone. Makes duplicate copies of Entities.
  • Gate. Accumulates Entities until a condition is met and then releases a specified number of them.
  • Assign. Assigns values to global Entity and model attributes and sets Entity priorities.
  • Synchronize. Coordinates the release of various Entities.
Resource Related - These Activities affect Resources, not Entities:
  • Replenish Resource. Adds capacity to consumable Resources.
  • Get Resource. Obtains a Resource and holds on to it across several Processes and Activities.
  • Free Resource. Releases Resources obtained by Get Resource Activities.


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  Activity Browser
The Activity Browser allows you to navigate more quickly through your model. This feature is especially useful in larger models with multiple levels of hierarchy. The Activity Browser dialog box contains a hierarchical, "tree" listing of the activities, processes and sub-processes defined in the current model. Processes and their Alternative Sub-Processes may have a plus (+) or minus (-) to the left. They will also display a small icon. If a Process represented by this icon also contains one or more Expression scripts, it will also have the icon. You can double-click the icon or simply click the +/- symbol to expand or contract the sub tree. Activities will have icons to the right of their names, and will additionally have the icon if the Activity uses any Expression scripts and the icon if the Activity uses any Resources.

Activity Browser Icon Based Example



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  Resource Modeling Constructs
When an Entity arrives at an activity, SIMPROCESS checks to see if any Resources are required to process it. If Resources are required, SIMPROCESS attempts to obtain them. Once an activity gains control of one or more units of a Resource, those Resource units are unavailable to any other activity. The activity retains control of the Resource units until it finishes processing the Entity.

SIMPROCESS provides the means for modeling Resources and for measuring the impact on the performance of a business process. In addition, variable and fixed costs associated with Resources may be used to measure Process costs and activity costs. A Resource is an agent that is required to perform the tasks associated with an activity. People, equipment, vehicles, money, and space can be modeled as Resources. The limited availability of Resources is an important constraining factor in business processes.

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  Knowledge Management with Reusable Templates
The SIMPROCESS Template and Library facilities support the reuse and organization of the various constructs used in building models. This capability is a tremendous advantage for organizations that want to capture and maintain the most valuable asset of a business - the process knowledge.

With a large set of libraries of reusable model building blocks, you are able to build new models faster. For example, you may develop a set of Processes (i.e. warehouse, manufacture, transport) and Resources (i.e. trucks, people, etc.) relevant to the Distribution domain, save them to a library named Distribution and use them to quickly build distribution models. Here is a summary of benefits:
  • Facilitate reuse of Processes, Activities, and Resources
  • Repositories for model building constructs you manipulate or create
  • Customizing of model elements through parameter settings
  • Placement of Processes and Activities on the User Palette bar and the Create pull-down menu
  • Grouping of Processes and Activities in user defined templates
  • Facilitate importing and exporting of customized model elements for use in other models or by colleagues


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  Icon Manager
User-imported images that will be available for use as icons in your models.

Category:
Each icon is assigned to one of two categories. Those in the Entity category are available for use in Entity Properties dialogs. Those in the Activity/Process category can be used when setting the properties of any Activity or Process. The default setting for imported icons is Activity/Process.

Icon Set:
Each icon is assigned to an Icon Set. The name of the Icon Set to which each icon is assigned will appear here. Newly imported icons default to "Imported".



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  Web Publishing of Process Models
For Wide Area Review and Collaboration: Creates web-ready files of your models, including graphical versions of all layouts; properties of all Processes, Activities, Global Attributes, Resources, and Entities; navigation support via the graphical layout or a tree-like list to allow access to inactive sub-processes; and inclusion of Standard Reports and Real-Time Plots if the model was simulated prior to publishing.

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  XML - Model Files
SIMPROCESS stores your model files in an XML document allowing any parser to read them.

Example Code:

A simple model can be built with just three Activity objects: Generate, Delay, and Dispose.



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  Customizable Real Time Plots - Multiple Axis and Data Sets
Custom Plots allow the plotting of multiple values on the same plot. The Custom Plot Properties dialog allows you to specify various characteristics for Custom Plots in your model. The left side of the dialog contains properties that can be set for any plot. Real-Time Plot Properties Example:



Graph Name: The text entered here will be used as the plot title
X-Axis Label: The text to be used for the X-Axis legend
Y-Axis Label: The text to be used for the Y-Axis legend
Simulation Time Units: For some plots, this will allow you to specify the units of measure for the X-axis. Values may be selected from Nanoseconds, Microseconds, Milliseconds, Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months or Years. Value Time Units: For some plots, this will allow you to specify the units of measure for the Y-axis. Values may be selected from Nanoseconds, Microseconds, Milliseconds, Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months or Years.

Sample graph from help desk model:
Real-Time Plot Colored Calls Example



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Advanced SIMPROCESS Features
  Attributes
  User-Defined Attributes
  Expressions
  Expression Editor
  External/Remote Capability
  Database Interfacing
  Built-In Interface for Defining Experiments

Customizing a Model with Attributes and Expressions
  Attributes
Attributes are user-defined and built-in variables of model elements whose values can change during the course of a simulation run. For example, in the case of a Batch Process where Entity release depends on the weight of Entities received, an attribute is the total weight of the items accumulated in the batch Activity.

To determine the percentage of orders processed within a specified period of time, the attributes you need to track include the processing time for each order, the number of orders that meet the promised delivery date, and the total number of orders processed. Attributes may be used to:
  • Alter the behavior of a Process by changing the value of an attribute during a simulation
  • Communicate information (such as attribute values) between two Processes in a model
  • Store data collected during a simulation run


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  User-Defined Attributes
By defining your own set of attributes, you can begin customizing your model. These attributes can represent model element attributes that are not built into SIMPROCESS, such as Entity weight or size, skill level of a Resource, or service level. You define attributes in association with:
  • Entity types, or Entity instances
  • Processes or Activities
  • Resources
  • The Model
When you define an attribute, you either tell SIMPROCESS to create an instance of that attribute for every model element of the same type (e.g., Entities, Resources), or to just create the attribute for a particular type of model element (customer order Entities, truck Resources). In SIMPROCESS terminology, we say that attributes are either globally defined or locally defined. Model attributes are only globally defined.

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  Expressions
The ability to create and set attributes is a powerful simulation feature when used in conjunction with SIMPROCESS Expressions. Expressions are user-written statements that SIMPROCESS executes during a simulation run. When you define an Expression, you select the point at which you want the Expression to be evaluated; for example, at the beginning of the simulation, or at the moment an Entity (e.g., a customer order) is received by an Activity (e.g., order distribution). In the case of the model where releasing of shipments depends on the total weight of orders such as appliances, you could do the following:
  1. Define an Attribute called applianceWeight and set its value whenever an applianceorder Entity is generated by SIMPROCESS. You determine what value to assign applianceWeight by checking the name of the Entity type (e.g., dishwasher-order, television-order). This information is available from a system Attribute, Name.


  2. When an Entity is received at the Batch Activity, add the Entity's applianceWeight value to the total weight of all orders waiting to be shipped (another User Attribute). Then check the total weight, and if it exceeds a certain value, do something to cause the Batch Activity to release a shipment. One way to force a shipment to be released is to change the batch size to a value equal to the current number of Entities in the Batch Activity. These values are available in System Attributes.
Dynamic Labels - There are two types of background text in SIMPROCESS: static text and dynamic labels. Static text is used for annotating the model layout and does not change during simulation. Dynamic labels, as their name implies, are updated during simulation and are used to display information about changing properties of model elements. One way to update dynamic labels is through an UpdateDynamicLabel method in the expression builder.

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  Expression Editor
Expression Editor introduces a state of art capability to build complex models without having to have in-depth programming experience. Expression statements can be constructed using a point and click editor, greatly simplifying the development of complex model behavior. The Expression Editor now includes Expression Language, System Methods, System Attributes, and User-Defined Attributes.
  • The Expression Language tab lists data types, operators, and constructs of the SIMPROCESS Expression Language along with a description of the selected item.
  • The System Methods tab lists the System Methods available for SIMPROCESS along with the Arguments, the type the system method Returns, and Description of the selected item.
  • The System Attributes tab lists the system attributes defined for each simulation object in SIMPROCESS.
  • The User-Defined Attributes tab lists all the global attributes defined in the model and any local attributes defined for the expression owner including the Type of the selected attribute.


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  External/Remote Capability
The external/remote capability in SIMPROCESS provides our users and services team with powerful capabilities to extend SIMPROCESS models. This capability can be as subtle as placing real time plots on another computer to speed up the simulation on the desktop where the model is running to highly complex interaction with user-written applications, commercial off-the-shelf software packages, and dispersed models over a network. This point paper will describe some scenarios where these capabilities might have practical application and furthermore, describe the level of complexity that may be involved in using the features.
  • Remote Plot capability allows plots to be displayed via a separate Plot Server on any connected network
  • External Call statement added to the Expression language. Allows simulations to call methods of external Java classes
  • Remote Call statement added to the Expression language. Allows simulations to call external applications using Java's RMI facilities
  • External Schedule added to Generate activities. Allows an application outside of SIMPROCESS to drive the generation of Entities


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  Database Interfacing
Using Expressions you can retrieve information from an SQL database, and you can modify an SQL database by inserting into tables, deleting from tables, and updating tables. Knowledge of SQL is required since all queries to the database are SQL queries. Database System Methods - There are six database-related System Methods, which can be used in Expressions:
  • OpenDatabase
  • CloseDatabase
  • ReadFromDatabase
  • WriteToDatabase
  • GetNext
  • GetResult


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  Support for Microsoft Access 2000
SIMPROCESS allows you to store your simulation results in a database. This database is designed to hold SIMPROCESS output and comes with predefined queries, graphs, and reports. The queries, graphs, and reports can be copied or modified to customize your analysis.

Access 2000 Example



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  Built-In Interface for Defining Experiments
The Experiment Manager allows you to set up model runs that SIMPROCESS will run automatically and, optionally, after each run, place the results in the database. SIMPROCESS reads the information from Experiments.xml, loads the appropriate model, runs the model and then (optionally) commits the results to the database.

The five items on the Experiment menu control the operation of the Experiment Manager.
  • Define Experiments
  • Run All Experiments
  • Run Selected Experiments
  • Run Specific Experiment
  • Import Database Experiments


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