Planning simulation as a component of logistics planning Foundation for the safe realization of logistics projects

Are you planning to equip an existing warehouse with new warehouse technology and systems in the near future? Or are you about to build a new logistics center and want to eliminate potential sources of error as early as possible? To be on the safe side before you start, a professional warehouse simulation is a good way to find out whether the planned dimensions of the warehouse and the arrangement of the material flow are the most economical option.
Companies can use a planning simulation to find out how their logistics will react to changes. Using a model, different variants of warehouse layouts and processing scenarios can be tested virtually in advance. But which scenarios are planning simulations actually suitable for?

Visualization is not the same as simulation

First of all, the terms simulation and visualization are often confused with each other: The difference essentially lies in the fact that visualizations are static 3D images. Planning simulations, on the other hand, are animated versions of real existing or planned warehouses.

Planning simulation process

At the beginning of a planning simulation, the most important questions, the objectives of the simulation and the target processes must be precisely defined. Once this has been done, the technology and processes of the warehouse are recorded using special simulation software and a 3D warehouse model is created. Then it gets exciting: various variables can be tested in the finished planning simulation and, for example, the performance values of the warehouse technology can be increased or decreased or the number of employees deployed can be changed.

A planning simulation also enables further deductions to be made about the optimum capacity utilization in the subsequent real warehouse, e.g. in highly automated logistics centers.

Here are some examples:

  • What performance figures result in bottlenecks in conveyor technology loops?
  • Is the number of planned WzP picking workstations sufficient or is an additional workstation required?
  • Does the planned cross-travel carriage provide the necessary capacity even at peak times?
  • How does the system generally behave under full load or under/overload?
  • Are the buffers provided sufficient (e.g. storage spaces on the conveyor system)?
  • Are the specified sequencing requirements in outgoing goods fulfilled?

In short: the positive or negative effects of an action become immediately apparent in the virtual planning simulation.

When does it make sense to use a planning simulation?

One positive effect of a planning simulation is that it contributes to a better understanding of the interaction of the entire system. At the end of the tests with a simulation, there is more certainty about the optimal design of the processes and, of course, the knowledge of which variant achieves the best performance. This is useful for expansions or restructuring and helps to define the optimum dimensioning of your system in advance. Last but not least, the requirements for the necessary storage strategies (intelligence of the system) are derived from the results of the planning simulation and clearly defined.

A planning simulation is therefore always recommended if a project is complex or if extensive conveyor technology is to be used in a system. If the projects are comparatively small, the database is too imprecise or data is generally insufficient, the use of a planning simulation should at least be checked very carefully. IGZ | SAP engineers for production and logistics will be happy to support you in finding the right solution for your application. Talk to us, we look forward to hearing from you!

Further information on logistics planning and planning/warehouse simulation can be found at