All entries for Sunday 21 April 2013

April 21, 2013

decision making using simulation

Simulation is a very useful decision making tool, yet a complex one. There are multiple softwares to select from and the most accessible is add-in on Excel. Depending on the application the approach can differ. for example, if the management wants to understand the consequences of multiple decisions, experiments can be carried to visualise their results and compare them or if a component performance was needed a CAD software can be used to analyse the performance needs.

although it can be a complicated process and it is not a decision tool on its own, it gives management and decision makers a deep insight to the situation to allow more objective analysis of the decision alternatives.

In my current job, simulation is very useful to carry out product design by using a software such as solid works or autocad. i can analyse what is the needed factor of safety when deciding on the optimal design for a certain component.


Linear programming

Linear programming is a very useful decision tool when the decision is made from few alternatives but when a decision space exists. For instance, when a production plant wants to understand what is the optimal combinations of products. However, it is important to know that linear programming is only suitable where objectives and constraints are linear. If not, it would be an application of operational research to use non-linear programming possibly.

This is a very useful management tool to use the decision objectives to minimise cost or maximise profit by optimising the decision objective.

In my career, linear programming is a very useful tool especially redesigning a mechanical component to be optimised. For example, minimising a product weight can be the design objective which can be given by management to meet a certain strategic objective and specifying stiffness as the design constraint. This can optimise the component design to achieve the desired decision objective.


Selecting a decision tool

The selection of a decision method is not a straight forward approach. There is no tool selection reference document to select the most suitable from and it is possible to find more than one suitable tool for a single decision. However, there are few guiding points such as, amount of information available, timescale, complexity, knowledge of the environment and knowledge of various tools.

The knowledge of various tools benefits, applications and shortcomings can aid the process of selecting the most suitable tool for a certain decision.

When i am in a position to make a decision i can start by identifying what are the affecting factors in terms of information, timescale and knowledge of the current problem. Secondly, i can compare the decision objectives to the decision tools available while being aware of their limitations. It is also possible to use multiple tools to cover for certain limitation or multiple objectives.


Decision making process

Using a decision making process is very effective to avoid decision conclusion. Depending on past experience or intuitive judgement is not sufficient. People that does not follow a structured approach can end up focusing on aspects that are not part of the decision. The use of a decision process gives the decision maker a chance to focus on identifying the exact decision problem, identify the decision requirements or constraints and specifically identify the needed decision objectives.

This approach to decision process is very useful as it eliminates the possibility of deviation from the main decision problem. Moreover, this allows for selecting a decision tool that significantly contribute to the decision objectives. Furthermore, in the event of implementing a decision alternative that does not meet the requirements it is possible to track where things went wrong as everything should have been structured and documented.

When facing a system failure in an engineering asset, following a structured approach will focus the use of trouble shooting to develop decision problem, especially if the problem was reoccurring. Moreover, by identifying the decision requirements and objectives, as an engineer i can identify the machine constraints and needs. From there it would be possible to use fault tree analysis or QFD to go further to rectification.


Grid Analysis

Grid analysis is a tool that allows ranking a decision alternative based on its performance in regards to a certain performance criteria. However, there are certain issues when ranking alternatives. People can rank factors based on personal preference or compensatory heuristics. Preparing qualitative data can reduce dependence on intuition to make an objective decision.

Making an objective decision is very important to reach to a quality decision. Moreover, this focus and depth in analysis can demonstrate the robustness of a decision as the performance criteria are quantitatively measured. Any variation and robustness can be further identified by sensitivity analysis.

At work, This tool is very useful when developing various modifications. if multiple modifications for a machine are developed, GA can help in identifying how each modification perform in the machine various performance criteria. By using technical measures it would be useful to identify the optimal modification based on its overall performance.


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  • Good point, you dont have to consider it while using the decision tree as the available data is limi… by Ahmed Alali on this entry
  • Good point Bu Salim. However, i failed to mention that a decision objective is linked to the busines… by Ahmed Alali on this entry
  • I do agree with you Ahmed that certain modification enhance GA performance, however, even if someone… by Waddah Alharthi on this entry
  • as u said, the time scaling and sentivity need to be taken into account… i agree but do u think in… by Tzu-i Yang on this entry
  • i agree with u … choosing tools is not easy… we might fall into trap info….it was whyi decisio… by Tzu-i Yang on this entry

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