Using system dynamics in a discrete-event simulation study of a manufacturing plant

Andrew Greasley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - To provide an example of the use of system dynamics within the context of a discrete-event simulation study. Design/methodology/approach - A discrete-event simulation study of a production-planning facility in a gas cylinder-manufacturing plant is presented. The case study evidence incorporates questionnaire responses from sales managers involved in the order-scheduling process. Findings - As the project progressed it became clear that, although the discrete-event simulation would meet the objectives of the study in a technical sense, the organizational problem of "delivery performance" would not be solved by the discrete-event simulation study alone. The case shows how the qualitative outcomes of the discrete-event simulation study led to an analysis using the system dynamics technique. The system dynamics technique was able to model the decision-makers in the sales and production process and provide a deeper understanding of the performance of the system. Research limitations/implications - The case study describes a traditional discrete-event simulation study which incorporated an unplanned investigation using system dynamics. Further, case studies using a planned approach to showing consideration of organizational issues in discrete-event simulation studies are required. Then the role of both qualitative data in a discrete-event simulation study and the use of supplementary tools which incorporate organizational aspects may help generate a methodology for discrete-event simulation that incorporates human aspects and so improve its relevance for decision making. Practical implications - It is argued that system dynamics can provide a useful addition to the toolkit of the discrete-event simulation practitioner in helping them incorporate a human aspect in their analysis. Originality/value - Helps decision makers gain a broader perspective on the tools available to them by showing the use of system dynamics to supplement the use of discrete-event simulation. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-548
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • operations and production management
  • organizational performance
  • simulation


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