Computer simulation is not a new technology; it has been used extensively by military, academic, and industrial organizations since the 1950’s for everything from critical strategic planning to validation of black hole and expanding universe theories. Early projects were hampered by excessive cost, cumbersome hardware, and complex programming but recent advances in personal computer power and application software have provided a basis for rapid advancement of simulation as a powerful, cost effective, risk free tool that can be used to analyze and improve any operating system. Computer simulation modeling is now used throughout the world as a primary decision making tool by all major automotive manufactures, can makers, financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and food processors.

The Florida citrus industry is faced with a continuous challenge to cut operating costs while improving quality and service, and we are asked to meet the challenge on a severely limited budget with utmost speed. We know changes must be made, and we even have a good idea what they are, but we are not sure which changes should be made first, or if they will really work as well as we think. We also know that trial and error methods of testing changes can be financially risky and disruptive to the existing process. A wrong decision to proceed with trial and error testing can have extreme consequences for both the decision-maker and the business, and many excellent ideas are never implemented due to a justified “fear of failure”.

Simulation allows many ideas to be tested in a greatly compressed time frame without committing capital, wasting time, or disrupting the process. Simulation promotes creative thinking and provides credible data for informed decision-making at all levels of an operation that cannot be obtained by any other method.

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