A Comparison of Discrete Event Simulation Software

Date: 2/3/2018
Author: Descreye Solutions

What is the best discrete event simulation software?

This question has been asked many times by people starting to learn discrete event simulation (DES) software. Many experienced simulation modelers would answer with the software they are most comfortable with or would say that they all have strengths and weaknesses. However, in an effort to determine the current state of the discrete-event simulation software space it is useful to rank the common tools. As such, Descreye Solutions has determined to annually provide an award for the "Descreye Solutions Best Discrete Event Simulation Software of the Year." While the award has no monetary value it is an indication of the current leader in the discrete event simulation space. In the ranking there are 5 categories. In addition to the overall winner, there are also a winner for each category.

Jump to the comparison

Obviously, we at Descreye Solutions provide a simulation software tool (OPS), so it may seem self serving to provide a ranking. While we will rate OPS against the leaders in the field, we recognize that OPS is only useful for a small subset of discrete-event simulation. As such, it is highly unlikely to receive the award. In fact, this year it came in dead last in our ranking. If you feel it is a conflict of interest, which it is, then feel free to ignore OPS in the ranking.

Before getting into the ranking system it should be mentioned that others have also provided comparisons of discrete-event simulation software. One such study is done biannually by ORMS, and the latest version is here:

ORMS Simulation Survey

This is merely a comparison based on a survey of various discrete-event simulation software providers. Unfortunately, it is a self assessment, so it doesn't evaluate the extent to which each criteria is accomplished. This makes less feature rich software look similar to the more feature rich software if the provider has some amount of functionality in the criteria. The ORMS survey is an important benchmark, but it doesn't quite help answer the question of the best

Another attempt at comparing discrete-event simulation software has been done in the following paper:

Discrete simulation software ranking - A top list of the worldwide most popular and used tools

This study used popularity (determined by search engine statistics) to determine which software was superior. While popularity is important, it should not be the only factor in determining the best tool for the job. As such, a similar metric is included in our analysis.

Ranking Methodology

In order to create a ranking of discrete event simulation software, we settled on the following five categories: Capabilities, Industries, Ease of Use, Popularity, and Development. These categories are described in detail below. Each category had 2-9 topics. Each simulation software package was ranked on a scale from 1 to 5 in each of the topics. While the ranking is subjective, it is based on the experience of those on our team and those with which we have consulted. If any software feels misrepresented they are free to contact us and we will review the ranking.

Capabilities

Capabilities contains topics that involve general functionalities of simulation software. These functionalities should not be specific to any particular industry or tool, but instead are things that are commonly looked at when evaluating simulation software. The topics in the capabilities category and a short description of their meaning are in the following list:

  • Execution Speed - The time it takes to simulate a simulation scenario in real-time.
  • Optimization Capability - Capability to use optimizers and customr optimization.
  • Distribution Fitting - Capability to fit raw data to distributions.
  • Programming - Capability to use programming to enhance the softwares capability.
  • Database Connection - Capablity to connect to external data sources.
  • Graphics - 3D or 2D graphics for debugging and presentation.
  • Default Library Quality - Usefulness and quality of default objects/classes.
  • Customization - The ease at which custom objects and software features can be added by the user.
  • Statistics Capturing - The capability to get the outputs from the model.

All of these topics get equally weighted when determing the discrete event simulation software that is the "Descreye Solutions Most Capable Discrete Event Simulation Software of the Year" award. Additionally, each of these topics is equally weighted with all other topics to determine the overall best discrete event simulation software of the year.

Industries

The purpose of the industries ranking is to analyze which tool is the best general purpose simulation software. Each tool is ranked in each industry based on the ease of building models for that industry in the tool. The following industries are considered as topics to be ranked:

  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics
  • Warehousing
  • Packaging
  • Material Handling
  • Healthcare

All of these topics get equally weighted when determing the discrete event simulation software that is the "Descreye Solutions Most General Purpose Event Simulation Software of the Year" award. Additionally, each of these topics is equally weighted with all other topics to determine the overall best discrete event simulation software of the year.

Ease of Use

The purpose of this category is to rank the software by the ease of use. There is a lot of capable discrete event simulation software tools, but usefulness is often determined by the ease of use of the software. The following topics and a short description are used for ranking:

  • Training Requirement - The amount of training required for a user to be able to model multiple systems in the tool without assistance.
  • Learning Resources - The availability of self-taught and external resources.
  • Frequency of Programming - The frequency at which programming is required to create a model.
  • 1st Model Building Time - The time it would take a proficient modeler to go from a fresh install of the software to a finished complex model.

All of these topics get equally weighted when determing the discrete event simulation software that is the "Descreye Solutions Easiest Discrete Event Simulation Software of the Year" award. Additionally, each of these topics is equally weighted with all other topics to determine the overall best discrete event simulation software of the year.

Popularity

The purpose of this category is to rank the software by its popularity. Popularity can be an important metric when choosing a discrete event simulation software package, because it can influence the ease at which companies can staff resources to do the simulation work. This category is ranked using 3 sources of popularity metrics, which include the following:

  • Wikipedia - This is a ranking determined by the number of page views of the different software on Wikipedia.
  • Google - This is a ranking determined by the number of searches for the software on Google.
  • LinkedIn - This a ranking determined by the number of people who mention the tool on their profiles on LinkedIn.

All of these topics get equally weighted when determing the discrete event simulation software that is the "Descreye Solutions Most Popular Discrete Event Simulation Software of the Year" award. Additionally, each of these topics is equally weighted with all other topics to determine the overall best discrete event simulation software of the year.

Development

the development category is an indication of the ability of the simulation software provider to adjust to future trends and give added capability. The software is ranked in two topics in this category, which are the following:

  • Latest Release - Ranked by time since last release.
  • Features Added In Last Release - A relative ranking of the quantity/quality of features released in the most recent release.

All of these topics get equally weighted when determing the discrete event simulation software that is the "Descreye Solutions Most Actively Developed Discrete Event Simulation Software of the Year" award. Additionally, each of these topics is equally weighted with all other topics to determine the overall best discrete event simulation software of the year.

The Comparison

Capabilites

Simulation Tool Execution Speed Optimization Capability Distribution Fitting Programming Database Connection Graphics Default Library Quality Customization Statistics Capturing
AnyLogic 5 5 4 5 3 2 3 4 3
Arena 4 5 4 5 4 2 3 4 4
AutoMod 3 3 4 4 3 2 3 2 3
Emulate3D 1 1 4 2 2 5 5 2 2
FlexSim 5 5 4 5 4 5 4 4 5
OPS 3 2 5 3 1 1 1 1 2
ProModel 3 5 4 2 4 1 2 2 4
SimEvents 5 3 4 4 3 1 1 3 2
Witness 3 5 4 3 2 2 2 2 2

Industries

Simulation Tool Manufacturing Logistics Warehousing Packaging Material Handling Healthcare
AnyLogic 3 5 2 2 2 3
Arena 4 2 1 2 2 2
AutoMod 3 1 1 3 5 1
Emulate3D 3 1 4 5 3 3
FlexSim 5 3 5 3 5 5
OPS 3 1 1 1 1 3
ProModel 3 1 1 2 1 2
SimEvents 2 1 1 1 1 1
Witness 3 1 1 1 1 2

Ease of Use

Simulation Tool Training Requirement Learning Resources Frequency of Programming 1st Model Building Time
AnyLogic 3 3 2 3
Arena 3 3 2 2
AutoMod 1 1 1 1
Emulate3D 3 2 5 3
FlexSim 4 4 4 4
OPS 2 1 4 5
ProModel 2 2 2 2
SimEvents 2 3 1 2
Witness 2 1 2 2

Popularity

Simulation Tool Wikipedia Google LinkedIn
AnyLogic 4 4 3
Arena 5 4 5
AutoMod 1 2 3
Emulate3D 1 1 1
FlexSim 4 4 4
OPS 1 1 1
ProModel 3 5 2
SimEvents 1 1 1
Witness 1 1 2

Development

Simulation Tool Latest Release Features Added in Previous Year
AnyLogic 5 3
Arena 5 2
AutoMod 2 1
Emulate3D 5 4
FlexSim 5 4
OPS 4 2
ProModel 3 1
SimEvents 4 2
Witness 4 1

The Awards

Descreye Solutions Best Discrete Event Simulation Software of 2018 - FlexSim

Below is a table with the overall rankings and the category winners. From the rankings it is clear that FlexSim is the "Descreye Solutions Best Discrete Event Simulation Software of 2018." Additionally, FlexSim was a winner in 4 out of 5 of the categories. Arena was the winner of the popularity category. Emulate3D tied with FlexSim to win the development category.

Simulation Tool Best of 2018 Most Capable Most General Purpose Easiest Most Popular Most Actively Developed
AnyLogic 3.4 3.8 2.8 2.8 3.7 4.0
Arena 3.3 3.9 2.2 2.5 4.7 3.5
AutoMod 2.3 3.0 2.3 1.0 2.0 1.5
Emulate3D 2.8 2.7 3.2 3.3 1.0 4.5
FlexSim 4.3 4.6 4.3 4.0 4.0 4.5
OPS 2.1 2.1 1.7 3.0 1.0 3.0
ProModel 2.5 3.0 1.7 2.0 3.3 2.0
SimEvents 2.1 2.9 1.2 2.0 1.0 3.0
Witness 2.1 2.8 1.5 1.8 1.3 2.5
WINNER FlexSim FlexSim FlexSim FlexSim Arena Emulate3D, FlexSim

For any questions please contact us.

How to Use the Rankings

To modify these rankings to best identify which simulation software is right for your application, it would be useful to weight each topic by the importance that your application requires. By using a custom weighting mechanism it would be easy to identify the best solution for your specific application.

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