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Competitive Comparisons An open discussion of Flexsim's strengths and weaknesses compared to competitive products

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  #1  
Old 05-18-2010
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Default Flexsim vs. SIMIO

Has anyone used both Flexsim & SIMIO and can they shed some light on pros & cons of each? My first impression is that SIMIO offers similar features as Flexsim but the IDE is much more 'standardized' for a Microsoft VS look & feel and this they claim improves modeling efficiency. Just want to know what the real users thinks of both.

Appreciate your time sincerely.
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  #2  
Old 05-20-2010
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We recently had an independent consultant (who previously worked for ProModel for several years) attend a Flexsim training class. Interestingly, he also attended a Simio course a few weeks later. Given his familiarity with simulation and his recent experience with both Flexsim and Simio, I will ask him to respond to your post and question.
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  #3  
Old 05-28-2010
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I've had some exposure to both FlexSim and Simio.

There are definitely pros and cons to each, Simio's biggest ones (in my opinion) being that it's so new and not really complete yet. It's functional, but not as refined as it should be. I'm also a little dumbfounded at how you're supposed to be able to put custom behaviors in to a model. I know it's possible, but it's just completely different than the way I think through a problem. Also, (at least as of last December) Simio had issues displaying in 3D, mainly that you couldn't really move around in true 3D; you are restricted to translating in a 2D plane above the 3D, and you can rotate down to some extent, so that was a bit annoying.

Otherwise, it's a fairly similar paradigm for modeling, at least as far as laying out machines and elements in 3D and having parts move around, and having fixed versus mobile resources/elements, etc...

One really nice thing about Simio is that they've directly integrated the Google SketchUp 3DWarehouse into the product, as well as support for SketchUp files. You can do a search for 3D geometry you want right within Simio, and if you find it, click a button and it's imported. If you have geometry in SketchUp you just import the Skp file (I'm a big fan of SketchUp so it's probably just a big deal to me)

Another cool aspect of Simio is their experimenter, which will fully utilize multicore systems, running one replication or scenario on each core . Each replication only runs on one core, so it's not truly parallel, it just makes running an experiment a bit faster. One way they accomplish this is by restricting how you can access tabular data. You're not able to just interact with external files on the fly, you have to read them into some kind of table, and access that in your simulation, which is a good practice anyway. So they end up making copies of each table in memory for each replication. Pretty cool to watch, at least.

I'm sorry I don't have much more to say for comparing the two, as I haven't delved deeply into either FlexSim or Simio, but they're both good packages that have their place. Also, Simio's growing and evolving so fast that it's worth keeping an eye on what it can and cannot do.

Hope that helps,

Jon
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  #4  
Old 05-31-2010
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Default Thanks for the response

Jon

Thanks much for the initial attempt at the comparisions of the two. Much useful.
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  #5  
Old 06-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fournier View Post
One really nice thing about Simio is that they've directly integrated the Google SketchUp 3DWarehouse into the product, as well as support for SketchUp files. You can do a search for 3D geometry you want right within Simio, and if you find it, click a button and it's imported. If you have geometry in SketchUp you just import the Skp file (I'm a big fan of SketchUp so it's probably just a big deal to me)


Jon

Jon,

Version 5 of Flexsim also uses the SKP file format. You can use any Google sketchup file directly. We should probably make a bigger deal about that. See this video:




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  #6  
Old 06-02-2010
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Simio claims that they are the first ones to have an easy to use 3D simulation software. In truth Flexsim has been easy to use for years. Flexsim is generation3 object oriented software. Simio is similar to the Taylor ED generation 2 object oriented software. Generation 1 was the EMPlant-Simple ++ stuff that was developed in the yearly 90's. If you compare a Flexsim object to a Simio object there is a night and day difference. Flexsim objects are much more robust, flexible, and capable. Animation wise there is no comparison. Flexsim uses many more standard formats. With the Flexsim animator included with version 5 of Flexsim, Simio animation just does not compare. Flexsim will use the cores in the next release to run experiments.

The bottom line is that Simio is a great Arena upgrade. It is built on the same principle with a new interface and some added capability. The visual coding constructs they have are limited and will get better in time. If you are looking at real technology and not hype, Flexsim is at least 10 years ahead in technology. I have built a model in Simio and find it cumbersome. Flexsim is much easier. Try modeling a conveyor with photo eyes, or putting something on the 5th level of a rack in Simio. It can not be done without simplifying or with the correct visualization. It does it about the same as Arena does it.

Simio also has a habit of copying Flexsim. They even had the same video on their homepage for a while. Hopefully we will see something original from them. Competition is good.

Last edited by Bill Nordgren; 06-03-2010 at 08:39 PM.
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  #7  
Old 06-07-2010
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Smile Thanks for the response

I see that I have opened a hornest's nest here - being a Flexsim convert ourselves for the past few years we still find shiny new toys interestinng
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  #8  
Old 06-07-2010
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I would like someone who is not part of the Flexsim company or part of Simio to evaluate Simio and post their thoughts.

Last edited by Bill Nordgren; 06-07-2010 at 11:32 AM.
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  #9  
Old 06-08-2010
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'cus this is the forum owned by flexsim.so it is hard to be Neutral point of view.
In a techinal perspective , people even don't know what is your mention of TaylorII technology.
I am learning simio for a few months,and I only know ,simio has a agile development mode, which is quite good.
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  #10  
Old 06-14-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Nordgren View Post
I would like someone who is not part of the Flexsim company or part of Simio to evaluate Simio and post their thoughts.
I'm not employed by FlexSim or Simio, or any simulation vendor; my job involves exercising simulation tools for small and medium sized manufacturing companies, and largely it's evolved to building tools for building simulation models faster.

We have licenses of QUEST, FlexSim, Extend, ProModel Process Simulator, and Arena Basic. Of all the tools I've used, I like QUEST the most for manufacturing models because they're much more tailored to manufacturing than the other software we have. QUEST isn't flexible enough to handle anything other than manufacturing, at least not elegantly or without a lot of unnecessary mental overhead.

FlexSim is by far the most flexible in terms of breadth and depth of possible areas they can simulate. I like that they're able to provide simulation software with different levels of abstraction to provide vertical solutions (i.e. healthcare, ship building), which trades flexibility for ease of use. Being able to translate a general purpose tool of infinite possibility (and infinite complexity) to something of very specific capability and easy to understand complexity is enormously important, in my opinion, in terms of getting simulation outside the realm of the dedicated simulation expert. Not to mention it's easy to get great looking 3D graphics in place (3ds, vrml, and now SketchUp import with textures).

Process Simulator and even ProModel proper are good tools, especially for manufacturing. Very nice 1 to many kind of mapping between routings and machines, which takes some doing in FlexSim (and Simio especially). ProModel's mission seems to be moving toward vertically integrated solutions as well, so good for them. They've probably got the best API I've seen for a simulation tool, at least for someone like me, who likes using COM API's in VBA for Excel and Visio. And I don't think I'm an atypical user.

Arena's by far the oldest-looking tool I've used, though they've obviously got the education market for now because they got there first (as far as I can tell). The only positive thing I can say about Arena is it has VBA embedded which makes it easy for me to hook into, but their API leaves much to be desired.

I have to admit I really like Extend, as it's a pretty functional tool for a great value. Some of its concepts are a little confusing, but I'm sure with some training and examples it's possible to pick it up and do quite a lot with it.

To me, Simio is a nice experiment in how to create a modern simulation interface, but I think they may have missed the mark. Maybe in future they'll be better at creating vertically integrated solutions, but before they can even attempt that, I'm sure they'll need to get their general purpose tool working right, and that's going to take some time. Time that FlexSim has already spent, and used to get miles ahead of Simio.

I hope I didn't make it seem I prefer Simio in my previous post, I was just listing the things they've done well. I don't know either tool as well as I would like. But the main point I guess I want to make is, my company has a license of FlexSim and we don't have one of Simio. Take that as you will.
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  #11  
Old 06-24-2010
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Thanks for taking the time to post an objective digest of each sim tool out there. We are in similar business of using multiple sim tools for various clients and have used most of the tools you have mentioned. I tend to agree with your assessemnt on most tools listed.
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  #12  
Old 04-09-2015
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Default Simio 2015

When googling for Simio I have come across this comparison with Flexim very easily. I am posting my prospective on Simio as I see it has been very much underestimated here.

Simio drastically reduces the simulation project time and quickly leads to quality results. It is meant for daily use, when new operation data is loaded. Simio team has even developed its own planing and scheduling add on, an alternative to APS software.

There are very strong features of Simio that help achieve this agile usage:
1. relational data tables that help avoid mundane data searches. Entity connected to one row in a table knows its related rows in other tables. No indexing (looping through data) needed.
2. it is a very well structured software with many ribbons and few, just 15 objects in the standard library (incl. path, node, server, vehicle and a few others) that allow constructing almost every simulation model.
3. Visio like process trees that flexibly extend functionality of the standard objects. No programming needed. No constant focus changing to deep down programming in VB or similar.
4. automatic collection of many results, using interactive dashboards for results presentation
5. experiments on all cores at ones
6. 3D animation is just an addition to all that. It helps to locate and solve the issues. It takes just a few clicks to create it. 3D Animation is meant to show and understand, not to make movies out of it. there is other software for movies.

Let me know if you have questions.
Thanks for allowing me to post this here.
Michal
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  #13  
Old 04-09-2015
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Michal,

Thank you for your post. I am really glad you brought up such important points. And even show no fear to post this on our own forum. I like it.

Since you are the German distributor of Simio I am sure your very interested in making sure Simio looks as good as possible. You make a list of things that Simio does but you make no attempt to compare them to FlexSim. After all this is a product comparison thread. You also make no attempt to acknowledge if FlexSim has similar features. So here is where I would like to help you out.

We will start off by seeing if what you have said about Simio is true as compared to FlexSim (statements may be true about other products, but that is another discussion).

You say " I am posting my prospective on Simio as I see it has been very much underestimated here."

You're probably right about that. Since this is a FlexSim forum we don't say a lot about Simio.

We don't underestimate Simio because Simio was created by a highly respected man. He has our respect. We have both been in this business for a long time and the respect should be mutual.

So lets have some fun and compare Simio and FlexSim. We will try and use Simio's material that is published on the web so I don't make a fool out of myself. Let’s look at some material.

You say " Simio drastically reduces the simulation project time and quickly leads to quality results."

Let’s see if this statement is really true or just marketing hype. Let’s take a look at a Simio Simbit and a FlexSim video that compares the same feature.

When you’re done viewing both, answer honestly, does Simio reduce modeling time compared to FlexSim? I will let you make your own conclusion.

Take a look:







You make a list of features of Simio so lets compare what you have said (giving you the benefit of doubt that Simio has everything you say).

You say:

"There are very strong features of Simio that help achieve this agile usage:
1. relational data tables that help avoid mundane data searches. Entity connected to one row in a table knows its related rows in other tables. No indexing (looping through data) needed.
2. it is a very well structured software with many ribbons and few, just 15 objects in the standard library (incl. path, node, server, vehicle and a few others) that allow constructing almost every simulation model.
3. Visio like process trees that flexibly extend functionality of the standard objects. No programming needed. No constant focus changing to deep down programming in VB or similar.
4. automatic collection of many results, using interactive dashboards for results presentation
5. experiments on all cores at ones
6. 3D animation is just an addition to all that. It helps to locate and solve the issues. It takes just a few clicks to create it. 3D Animation is meant to show and understand, not to make movies out of it. there is other software for movies."

Let’s look at each of these 6 claims in detail and see if FlexSim has somehow failed to see a need for this feature. It is good to see that Simio has these 6 features.


“1. relational data tables that help avoid mundane data searches. Entity connected to one row in a table knows its related rows in other tables. No indexing (looping through data) needed.”


First of all, I need to know the definition of “mundane data searches”. Are there non-mundane searches? I mean anyone who likes searching data really needs to skydive to bring some excitement in their life.


Most simulation products have relational data tables. FlexSim provides more than just referencing related rows in a table. You can even nest a table within a cell in FlexSim. Relational SQL searches can also be inside FlexSim. Here is a list of the table commands in FlexSim. I am not sure if Simio allows string data in tables. If not then Simio tables are of the basic variety. I see no weakness of FlexSim compared to Simio.

reftable("GlobalTable")Returns a reference to the Global Table that can then be passed into subsequent table commands.
gettablenum(table, row, col)Returns the number value stored in the table at the cell specified by row and col.
gettablestr(table, row, col)Returns the string value stored in the table at the cell specified by row and col.
settablenum(table, row, col)Sets the number value in the table of the cell specified by row and col.
settablestr(table, row, col)Sets the string value in the table of the cell specified by row and col.
gettablecell(table, row, col)Returns a reference to the cell (node) in the table specified by row and col.
settablesize(table, row, col)Sets the size of table to rows and cols. See commands documentation.
gettablecols(table)Returns the number of columns in table.
gettablerows(table)Returns the number of rows in table.
clearglobaltable(table)Writes zeros to all the number cells and clears the text in all string cells of the table.
addtablecol(table)Adds a new column to the table.
addtablerow(table)Adds a new row to the table.
deletetablecol(table, col)Deletes the specified column from the table.
deletetablerow(table, row)Deletes the specified row from the table.
movetablecol(table, col, newcol)Moves the table column col to newcol.
movetablerow(table, row, newrow)Moves the table row row to newrow.
gettableheader(table, row/col, rowcolnr)See commands documentation.
executetablecell(table, row, col)Executes the cell in table as Flexscript. If the cell contains number data, returns the number.
importtable(table, "filename", importcolheaders, importrowheaders)Imports table data from the file specified by filename from a .CSV format.
exporttable(table, "filename")Exports the table in .CSV format to the file specified by filename.

2. it is a very well structured software with many ribbons and few, just 15 objects in the standard library (incl. path, node, server, vehicle and a few others) that allow constructing almost every simulation model.


Ribbons are a Microsoft feature. As you have watched the previous video comparison, I don’t think you would find a weakness in either product in the interface. Other than it takes many more clicks and custom processes to build the same model in Simio. I would say less clicks make for better structured software. Take a look at these 2 videos and look how clean the interface of FlexSim is compared to Simio. You be the judge. Notice how it takes many more clicks in Simio to build the same model.







3. Visio like process trees that flexibly extend functionality of the standard objects. No programming. . No constant focus changing to deep down programming in VB or similar.


We should call this what it is. It is visual programing. In the previous 2 video comparisons there is more programing and defining custom processes in Simio than in FlexSim. You say no programing in Simio. This is absolutely not true. A product that has no way of customizing the model is worthless. Without some way to customize you have no flexibility. Simio requires programing to build a real model. Just like any other worthwhile simulation software. You hurt yourself when you say Simio has no programing. FlexSim’s customization is limitless. Simio does not even compare because in FlexSim you can code anything if you desire. FlexSim’s wizards reduce coding without limiting flexibility.

4. automatic collection of many results, using interactive dashboards for results presentation

Click image for larger version

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Good to know. Simio has finally added this capability that FlexSim has had for years.

5. experiments on all cores at ones
FlexSim also does this and has for a long time.

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This computer has 4 cores so 4 runs in the experimenter running at the same time.

6. 3D animation is just an addition to all that. It helps to locate and solve the issues. It takes just a few clicks to create it. 3D Animation is meant to show and understand, not to make movies out of it. there is other software for movies."


As you have watched the videos you have noticed that FlexSim’s 3D animation is much better. Simio uses some basic 2D representation and then changes to a basic 3D. Simio only support a few 3D file formats when FlexSim uses many. Here are a list of 3D file types FlexSim uses directly:
*.wrl; *.3ds; *.dxf; *.stl; *.skp; *.dae; *.obj; *.ac; *.x; *.ase; *.ply; *.ms3d; *.cob;*.md5mesh; *.irr; *.irrmesh; *.ter; *.lxo; *.csm; *.scn; *.q3o; *.q3s; *.raw; *.off; *.mdl; *.hmp; *.scn; *.xgl; *.zgl; *.lvo; *.lvs; *.blend


When you say "3D Animation is meant to show and understand, not to make movies out of it." it almost sounds like your saying Simio’s 3D is so bad that you recommend not making movies out of it. FlexSim thinks 3D is very important and we include a “AVI Maker” complete with fly paths and object animations to create stunning videos of your models to share with clients. I believe that Simio does not even compare in the 3D feature set with FlexSim. If this is one of the issues you think we have under estimated in Simio then you are unfamiliar of FlexSim’s capabilities. You should watch these videos so you become familiar with FlexSim animation.


FlexSim's Conveyor Module from FlexSim Simulation Software on Vimeo.


FlexSim for Material Handling Simulation from FlexSim Simulation Software on Vimeo.



https://vimeo.com/120641539
https://vimeo.com/85480181
https://vimeo.com/122804019

So if I have misstated anything please let me know. I have tried to focus my comments on FlexSim features and have let the Simio published video stand on their own merit. My comments of 3D capability should be validated by the videos. If my observations here are incorrect please help me understand.

Last edited by Bill Nordgren; 04-14-2015 at 03:43 PM.
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  #14  
Old 04-21-2015
Michal Stec
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Default The bottom line

Bill,

I do not use Flexim. I simply tried it in the past, got an idea how it works and thought there are other tools out there for me. And Simio has a unique advantage for the tasks I need it for.

The bottom line for me and maybe for many other simulation software users is the duration of an average simulation project. Here it is about 10 man days. Think of a production process that is specific, not general. Say, a manufacturer has a few data tables, a rather complex process description and wants to generate results for many production scenarios. Then he wants to evaluate them, introduce changes and so on.

The Simio examples from your post show how these specific issues can be modeled. On the other hand you show predefined object functions in Flexim. The real processes are usually more specific than these in the templates. The question is how quickly you can expand these Flexim features to address the needed functionality. What about debugging?

Sure, 3D animation in Flexim looks good. But if the purpose of a simulaton project is getting results quickly then a fancy animation is not inline with it. 3D animation in Simio is simpler but good enough for the purpose.

Best regards
Michal
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Old 04-30-2015
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Talking Chinese like Flexsim more

I am China's largest simulation BBS Forum manager ?I think chinese like Flexsim more.
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  #16  
Old 09-23-2015
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Default I´ve used both

Hi,

Excuse me for my redaction, I'll try to write about my experience, I´ve worked in simulation for 18 years in Chile, I started with Promodel, It´s easy to learn and powerful, the Excel´s interface is a great help. The only defaults I find was the big statistic collected do the runs very slow and the number of entities can be coexist must be reduced to avoid the model runs too slow.

Two year after I bought a license of Flexsim, It´s an advance software full 3D, Promodel is only 2D, with a great presentation, with this software I could simulate the pedestrian’s metro operation. In Flexsim you can create simultaneously a very much flowitems without do slow the runs. Flexism has very tools and instructions to allow simulate all industries.

Three years ago I find a license of SIMIO in the company I work, I ´ve learned this software for one years and did a little project; about simulate a Tunnel’s building. I find programing the steps take more time to write the code in flexsim or promodel, and you must create many definitions in different menus. I think the number of steps you must create do difficult to follow the programing. I think this software can be a great tools for the user to started using Arena or SLAM, you need to configure your brain for work with networks’ steps.

Another difference between Flexsim and SIMIO is the way to simulate de vehicle’s speed, in Flexsim you can use acceleration in path and this is not possible in SIMIO, where only you can use this attribute only in transports of entities at the free space. I use this attribute for modeling mining´s equipment.

All the best

Andrés
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