Since most software tools for SCM simulation do not offer tools for data processing and data analysis, we use the KNIME Analytics Platform software from KNIME AG, Zurich, for this purpose.
KNIME is a free software for interactive data processing (ETL: Extraction, Transformation, Loading) and analysis. The tool offers a professional software architecture that is scalable and highly modular. In comparison with other software tools, KNIME scores above average and stands out especially for its user-friendliness.
KNIME’s core architecture allows the processing of large amounts of data that are only limited by the available hard disk space (most other open source data analysis projects are memory based and therefore limit the amount of data that can be processed significantly).
The data processing is workflow-based, which means that individual modules with the required functions are simply and quickly connected. The core version contains several hundred modules for
- data integration (file I/O, database operators with support for all common databases),
- data transformations (filter, converter, combiner),
- and the most common methods of data analysis and visualization.
The modules are integrated as plugins. The creation of own modules is supported by KNIME.
The Zurich-based company KNIME AG also offers professional technical support and consulting services for the KNIME platform if desired or necessary.
If the data analyses or transformations become too complex for KNIME to process, we can also use the Python Programming Environment that allows us to perform very complex analyses and operations on the supply chain data. We rely on Python libraries that have their origin in the Big Data sector, these libraries are designed to efficiently process large amounts of data. An example of a possible case would be the scaling of transaction data (e.g. inbound und outbound order data) in order to be able to evaluate future scenarios with the other tools of the SimChain toolset.
The software anyLogistix (ALX) from AnyLogic Company is used for the design and simulation of supply chains. The following sections describe the most important functions in keywords.
- Determination of the number and locations for possible places with the help of minimal input data: customer locations, demand and products.
- Carrying out a multi-echelon greenfield analysis if the supply chain under consideration comprises several levels..
- Conduct a more detailed supply chain analysis by transforming the GFA results into a network optimization or dynamic simulation model
- Determine the best network configuration with the leading solver IBM ILOG CPLEX®.
- Determination of boundary conditions to find a practicable solution.
- Periodic master planning of the supply chain to optimize where and how much needs to be produced, stored and shipped.
- Conversion of the results of the analytical optimization into a dynamic simulation model for deeper analysis and understanding of the internal supply chain dynamics.
- Solve problems that cannot be solved with analytical optimization by creating a detailed dynamic simulation of the supply chain.
- Analysis of time related factors, random events, the actual system behaviour and dynamic interactions between elements of the considered supply chain.
- Simulation of all processes within a supply chain: manufacturing processes, resources, scheduling, DC processes, layouts and costs.
- Change of indices in the course of time. For example, you can analyse which values the following indicators had on the 25th day of the simulated period: inventory/service levels, current orders, workload, capacity utilization, throughput times, costs/turnover, bullwhip effect and much more.
- Consideration of complex logic at network level: replenishment, procurement, production, transport as well as utilization of resources (fleet, people, equipment).
- Network optimization provides the plan for your supply chain. The dynamic simulation shows how the plan can be implemented.
Measurement of all indicators that are required in the respective supply chain model: costs, revenue, inventory dynamics, service levels, bullwhip effect, capacity, utilization, inbound/outbound orders and products.
- If a statistic is missing in the standard list, it can be added using the ALX extension mechanism.
- Investigate at run-time of the model how the statistics change over time to see how the supply chain has behaved at each moment within the simulated time span.
- With a powerful dashboard, you can present the information you need.
EXTENSION WITH ANYLOGIC
- Any component of anyLogistix’s dynamic simulation model can be modified with AnyLogic® Professional, the leading simulation software tool.
- Adaptation of network objects: Warehouse, distribution center, factory, customer/market. You can also edit ordering, inventory, procurement and transport policies.
- Adaptation of anyLogistix tables, for example you could change the calculation of transport costs.
If the supply chain to be simulated contains very special processes that cannot be covered by the standards of anyLogistix, it is possible to use the SimChain Building Block Library, which is a SimPlan self-developed product based on the Simulator Plant Simulation.