Choosing Simulation Software

Since the early days of simulation, the market for software products has grown – as has the number of commercial packages available.

From its early beginnings in academia, the packages have evolved from the early programming languages and packages (such as See Why, Siman, etc.) through to modern day variations (such as WITNESS, Simul8, Simio etc.)

If you are thinking of using simulation or have been but have yet to get the benefits you expected are you using the right tools? And which ones are the ‘right tools?’ It’s no surprise that companies find it difficult to choose the best simulation software for their needs and there are as many opinions as there are people. Nowadays, for anyone looking to purchase a simulation software, the market is very crowded and I often hear the questions:-

  • What should I choose?
  • Why are some packages so much cheaper than others when they seem to do the same?
  • Do I need to be a programmer?
  • Can I really create realistic simulations without any coding/programing?
  • Do I need 3D models?
  • Will my staff be able to use this software?
  • What support will I get?

For me, when discussing the use of simulation with clients, I get the client to ask themselves the following simple questions:-

  1. What do I want to use it for?
  2. How often?
  3. Do I have staff that could use it?
  4. How long does it take to build models and start to get real benefits?
  5. How much do I have/want to spend?

This usually starts the dialogue and helps to identify the real needs of the client and hence the best tools.

More traditional tools may have been there and done that many times over but may be very expensive, be tied to old technologies and have less frequent updates. Clients can find that some are also cumbersome or difficult to use and require a degree of programming ability.

More modern tools may have the advantage of more modern approaches and can be easier to use. Some adopt an agile development approach which enable frequent updates. However, do they provide the functionality required to tackle your problem?

At the end of the day, simulation is about more than the software tools that you use. It is more about the approach that you take, the people you use and how you involve other colleagues. Choosing the correct simulation product is important but not as important as how you use it. Yes – it is true that some tools will make it easier or faster or produce more comprehensive results but even more important is the route you go to ensuring that simulation brings the promised results.

If you would like some support in evaluating or using simulation packages, please get in touch.


The views expressed in this blog are purely the thoughts and opinions of the author based on experience in applying simulation over the years in many different industries. Thoughts, feedback and comments (whether agreeing or disagreeing) are most welcome.

Posted in Simulation.