If i wanted to write a piece of software that simulated a warehouse where typical warehouse procedures occur eg

  • loading of trucks onto conveyors
  • goods being transported around a warehouse by machines
  • goods being packed by operatives
  • goods being picked by operatives ... etc

should this be modelled / is this known as a discrete event simulation problem or a continuous event simulation problem.. or both?

  • $\begingroup$ Probably depends on what you want to do with the model? $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2016 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ Evaluate the efficiency of the warehouse given periods of increased or decreased volume of products moving in and out etc.. just trying to understand what banner these types of problems fall under.. so I can direct my research in the correct place $\endgroup$
    – kazuwal
    Nov 19, 2016 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ The procedures you listed could be considered discrete. However if you want more details, for example, to know where every machine is at every point in time, it could be continuous. $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2016 at 8:02

1 Answer 1


Like many real-world models, this type of situation can be modeled both continuously and discretely. For example, if you defined the problem as a series of equations defining the rates at which items arrived and departed it would be continuous, but if you modeled it at a more microscopic level, showing individual arrivals and departures of trucks, it would be discrete. Then, going further, if you were to model the actual acceleration of the trucks as they departed the loading bay, it would become continuous again.

In general, job shop-type simulations are usually modeled as a series of discrete events. You may want to refer to queuing theory.

Note that there is an open source project called Facsimile that does discrete event simulation and is intended to do the kind of simulation you are aiming at. There are also a lot of commercial systems that specifically do industrial logistics and job shop simulation; for example AnyLogic is one such package.

You can also use generic simulation languages like Modelica to create the simulation.

In general, it is good idea to use simulation software rather than write your own simulation in many cases because there are many subtleties to it that you would not expect. Using an existing simulation package you can create your simulation in a fraction of the time it would take to program it and the result is potentially much more reliable with less risk of bugs.


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