Using visual interactive simulation to improve decision making in production system design

Fabio K. Schramm1 & Carlos T. Formoso2

1MSc, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Management, Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel), PhD Candidate at NORIE/UFRGS, [email protected], Rua Almirante Barroso, 1734, CEP: 96010-280, Pelotas/RS, Brasil, Phone: +55 53 3222 7981
2PhD, Associate Professor, Building Innovation Research Unit (NORIE), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), [email protected], Av. Osvaldo Aranha, 99 – 3º andar, CEP: 90035-190, Porto Alegre/RS, Brasil, Phone: +55 51 3308 3959


The performance of production systems in construction is strongly affected by variability, interdependence and uncertainty. Simulation models are useful for modelling the behaviour of production systems, and understanding the combined effects of those factors. Although simulation is widely used in several industrial sectors and their benefits are well-known, most of the applications in construction have been developed by academics. Very little has been reported in the literature on the use of simulation for the design of real production systems in the construction industry. One of the main causes for its poor dissemination is the lack of confidence and perception of validity in simulation models by decision-makers. Visual Interactive Simulation (VIS) is a technique which integrates mathematical and symbolic models with runtime interaction and real-time graphic display of the model output. Such features can potentially make it easier to introduce simulation in the task of designing production systems in construction, by getting decision-makers involved in both processes of building and using the model. This paper presents an exploratory study on the application of VIS for improving the decision-making process in the production system design of a building project. A process of external wall plastering was used to test the use of VIS and to assess the difficulties and benefits of this technique. The main findings are related to the improvement of communication and understanding between the user and model builder, as well as the need for creating opportunities for reflection.


Visual interactive simulation, production system design, decision-making.



Schramm, F. K. & Formoso, C. T. 2007. Using visual interactive simulation to improve decision making in production system design, 15th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 357-366.

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