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Computer simulations are software applications that enable a user to run a model of a system. Users can interact with computer systems, setting input variables and observing what changes occur to outputs. They can animatedly explore the model domain in real time, start and stop the model, make changes to test hypotheses, and experiment in a non-prescriptive fashion. The interactive, dynamic and open nature computer-based simulation is an excellent teaching tool. A tool that put users in charge of their own learning, thinking process, and own understanding of a particular system, which create valuable individual learning experiences. Reflections, title of our team paper explores some of those lessons learned as we assimilated into the world of Process Control and Problem Solving, Managing a Process Layout, and Inventory Management. Why not come alone with us as we reflect back on the various processes used in the world of business.
Simulation I – Process Control and Problem Solving
The Mario’s Pizzeria simulation focused on reduction of customers’ wait time while anticipating losing patrons, investing in new equipment and getting rid of the old, and expanding the business by adding another function of the business. The following information were the results of our simulation process into Mario’s Pizzeria:
To determine how many customers we were willing to see walk away based on the wait time, strategic planning was utilized with the expectation of losing 17 to 20 customers. We changed the distribution of tables by reducing the tables of fours and increased the tables of twos. The results of this redistribution proved to be a good decision, because in the beginning the tables for four showed the highest utilization at 99.56 percent and 37 of the groups of four walked out and left the restaurant without being served. After we made our decisions, the utilization of tables for four changed to 96.26 percent and the tables for two changed to 89.11 percent. This was the optimum solution as the waiting time was reduced considerably and we made a reasonable profit, and utilization of all the servers was not very high. The sales loss was reduced to $390.
Another alternative to maximize the wait time and utilization of our facility and staff would be to consider utilizing two cash registers on opposite ends. Utilization of two registers would not only speed up the process, but also give the appearance that there is no long line. Additionally, purchasing the conveyor oven from Plax to replace the manual ovens and buying the Menu Point System in a long run would proved to be cost effective. The decision to make these investment equipments proved to be an effective one as well, because the processing time of the conveyor oven was 4.00 minutes unlike the manual oven, which was 15 minutes. That reduced the waiting time considerably. The Menu Point System reduced the processing time of waiters from 13 minutes to 8 minutes and that also had a significant impact on the waiting time.
The process capacity for Mario’s Pizzeria wait staff consisted of the total time taken by a waiter to take an order, convey it to the kitchen, collect the order, serve it to the customer, present the bill, and accept payment. The existing service facility capacity of Mario’s Pizzeria was: tables for four: 14, tables for two: 0, wait staff 4, kitchen staff: 2 and manual ovens: 4. However, after completing this simulation the service facility capacity of Mario’s Pizzeria was: table of four: 10, tables of 2: 8, wait staff: 4, kitchen staff: 2, and Plax oven: 1. After making these changes the capacity at Mario’s increased, and in order to meet the increase in demand we decided to rent Cream Puffs Bakery. The increase in customers, continual flow of patrons moving in and out of the open restaurant in the mall, and increase in profits were pleasing to uncle Mario.
Simulation II – Managing a Process Layout
In the toothpaste simulation, multiple issues surfaced as to effective operations management for process layout. A lesson learned from the simulation is that change costs money. Changes to process layout take time, create periods of idle production, impact customers if not planned properly, and affect business finances.
The thought process generated from this simulation is that advance planning is extremely important when designing production lines and layout. During initial design and layout activities, attention to current capacity, future capacity and the ability to manage process or equipment change and/or addition, is required. The initial layout should accommodate future changes, resulting in a process that is easy and cost-effective to manage. This will help to minimize future downtime, adapt to growth or process improvements and avoid losing opportunities to gain profit and market share.
Naturally there is a “cost of delay” associated with any change that requires a production line shutdown. Important factors learned from each scenario provided was advance planning is mandatory, and planning is the way to minimize costs and accommodate the customer without impact. The output of successful line design and layout activities should be to produce the most physically efficient process possible. Businesses need to address issues such as travel time and space, proximity of subsequent process steps and the location of the last process step in relation to any subsequent activities required with regards to packaging or shipping. Ideally, one should develop the shortest distance possible for a product from start to finish, eliminating all non-value added activities such as movement, or batch storage. Physical movement of product, or resources involved in any process should be minimized, and those involved in line designs and layouts should remain cognizant of potential ergonomic problems within the process.
The existing capacity of V’Shine toothpaste organization based on redesign of their organizations’ layout plan is the ability to accommodate two production lines for the original toothpaste, V’Shine and their new product, V’Fresh. As a result, the following benefits came from the organizations redesign layout: total cost of operation of both lines reduced, improved production efficiency, floor manager found it easier to supervise his employees, improvement in the working environment, and cost was kept to an optimal level.
Simulation III – Inventory Management
Given the amount of historical data the easiest method to forecast the amount of gloves required by the hospital is to use a multiple-period inventory model. The model was chosen due to the hospital’s multiple purchases of both the surgical gloves and the examination gloves throughout the given time period. The order process is initiated when the gloves fell down the action level of stock. Since surgical gloves can be used in patient examinations they allow for the hospital to reduce the amount of exam gloves needed in reserve for emergency situations. Unfortunately, the examination gloves are unable to be used in surgeries so a larger stockpile of surgical gloves was needed to obtain an adequate safety stock level. The adequate number of gloves in the safety surplus negated shortages of gloves due to special circumstances, which was determined using the probabilities formulas given in the text.
To accomplish both the six-sigma goals and maintain a control of cost probabilities were used once again. The hospital has a good idea of the amount of gloves used from week to week. During the simulation, the hospital never depleted the inventory below the safety stock level. To ensure the hospital had the appropriate number of gloves needed per month, the hospital assigned a safety factor of 95 percent for the surgical gloves. A lower safety factor was used with the examination gloves since the surgical glove can be used during an examination in emergency situations.
The best model used was the multiple-period inventory model. The model allows the hospital a structure to follow when making purchases. When the model is combined with probabilities concepts, a very dependable forecast of the future is given to the operations manager.
Conclusions and Lessons Learned
Remaining competitive in today’s global economy means delivering higher quality service and products at better prices. Survival, growth and profits depend on how an organization controls its costs and satisfies its clients or customers. As a result, the benefit from utilization of simulations are many such as a better understanding of the consequences based on various decisions made, identifying alternatives that can improve decision-making, and improvement in the overall performances of the organization.
Therefore, lesson learned from the process control simulation is optimizing the best utilization of resources, space, and equipment to reduce customer walk out and/or loss of profit.
In the managing process layout, change costs money was a lesson learned. Changes to process layout take time, create periods of idle production, impact customers if not planned properly, and affect business finances. Now, to fully understand the manager’s role in the inventory management simulation it was necessary to run the simulation twice. During the second simulation, decisions were made using the multiple-period inventory model with probabilities. With a format to follow the hospital was able to find a happy median between the cost of the inventory and having the inventory accessible. Operations managers have to walk a very thin line between what is needed and cost. Consequently, an operations manager’s ability to make an accurate forecast is critical to his/her ability to function.
There are many challenges that a manager has to face when decisions have to be made when it concerns customer satisfaction, cost reduction, profits made, and best utilization of resources at hand. However, utilizin