Is this a simulation?

|n article in Industry Week describes a simualtion in which students learn to improve work-flow efficiency in manufacturing. But I suspect this is not a simulation at all, just an old-fashioned hands-on try-out of techniques.

According to the article, the simulation, developed by Time Wise Management Systems, goes like this: “Just like any other manufacturing environment, the students have sales, shipping, production and quality control departments. But in this industrial setting the initial setup is purposefully confusing. Students are asked to come up with their own solutions to improve process flow without reducing the workforce…It helps them understand through properly placing workers that they can improve production, Mahoney says. We teach them how its the process that makes it confusing, not the people, and if you improve the process and train the people properly, you can produce more.
The simulation is conducted in a group of 15 to 20 people with each person assigned a different role, such as assembler or production supervisor. Each round takes approximately 15 minutes and corresponds to a work shift. As the students progress, theyre expected to increase the number of clocks they produce by applying lean principles. ”

In other words you ask them to produce clocks, they (presumably) really do produce clocks, and then they re-organise themselves so they can produce even more clocks. It might be a simulation if they just pretended to produce clocks!

Id like to tell you more but Time Wises own website has a Flash screen which takes so long to load that I hadnt the time to wait. Oddly, it shows a lot of gear wheels, which dont mesh, and which, despite being of different sizes, all go round at the same speed. Not a good simulation there, or a good metaphor for industrial timing!

Theres nothing wrong with learning by doing, in fact it makes more sense than many a simulation. But I do wish people wouldnt misuse the word simulation, just because it sounds more hi-tech.

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