ISI-Plan - Integration of Discrete Event Simulation and Layout Planning for Logistics Nodes

The project combined the layout planning of intermodal terminals with logistics simulation in order to exploit the strengths of both tools.

Project duration
01.09.2017 – 31.12.2020
Project funding
funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Our status
Project partner
Contact person
Ann-Kathrin Lange
Project partnersThe project consortium consisted of experienced industrial and research partners in logistics simulation and layout planning:
  • plavis GmbH
  • Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services CML
  • TU Hamburg, Institute of Maritime Logistics
  • SGKV – Studiengesellschaft für den Kombinierten Verkehr e.V.
The consortium was supplemented by the associated partners Sächsische Binnenhäfen Oberelbe GmbH (SBO) and TriCon Container-Terminal Nürnberg GmbH as operators of logistics nodes.


Layout planning and logistics simulation have so far been used separately in the development and planning of logistics nodes. Layout planning software is characterized by an intuitive and cooperative application, but only allows static considerations. In contrast, simulation software has the advantage that it allows the analysis of dynamic processes, but it is less intuitive to use.

The aim of ISI-Plan is to combine both tools and thus use the strengths of the tools, eliminate the weaknesses and realize synergy effects (e.g. reduction of the modeling time for the simulation model). A solution is to be developed that enables static layouts, created on a touch-sensitive and intuitively operated planning table, to be transferred directly into a functional dynamic simulation model with stored logistics strategies. In particular, these stored strategies are the main pillar of integration, since they represent the missing link between layout planning and simulation.

The planning software visTABLE® from plavis and the simulation software Enterprise Dynamics® from INCONTROL are used. The planned innovation leads to considerable time savings in the planning of logistics nodes, since simulation models for logistics nodes usually have to be created by experts in elaborate detail work (based on the layout).

The integration of an intuitive visualization environment in the form of a planning table into the planning process makes it easy to view and evaluate different layout variants, even in a team. In a few iteration loops, solutions can be developed cooperatively that meet the criteria of the various stakeholders. The layout variants generated without great effort and extensive software knowledge can be automatically evaluated by event-oriented simulation taking into account dynamic and stochastic influences of real operation and typical work requirements. Various handling and storage strategies are available to users, which can be selected when generating the simulation model. This creates a realistic representation of the terminal that enables a reliable evaluation of the respective layout variant. Based on this uniform basis for discussion, further changes in layout or planning steps can be discussed and agreed among the stakeholders. This prevents possible faulty planning and makes it possible to optimize planning right from the start.

Publications (excerpt)

Title: Integrating layout planning and simulation for logistic nodes Proceedings of the Hamburg International Conference of Logistics (HICL)/ Logistics 4.0 and Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Written by: Schwientek, Anne and Lange, Ann-Kathrin and Holzner, Markus and Thomsen, Margit and Jahn, Carlos
in: HICL 2018 2018
Volume: Number:
on pages:
Editor: Jahn, Carlos and Kersten, Wolfgang and Ringle, Christian M.
Publisher: epubli
Series: Proceedings of the Hamburg International Conference of Logistics (HICL)
Address: Berlin
ISBN: 978-3-746765-36-5
how published:

[www] [BibTex]

Note: isiplan

Abstract: When a new logistic node (e.g. a terminal) is planned or needs to be optimized, layout planning and simulation analysis are typically two separate tasks. While layout planning is an intuitive and visual but static approach, simulation is dynamic but more complex. Integrating both approaches would be highly beneficial. The idea of the integrated tool is to create first a static layout on a touch-screen planning table. After inserting relevant parameters and selecting preferred logistic strategies, the layout is converted directly into an executable simulation model. Based on the simulation, e.g. different layout or equipment variations can be tested. Main challenges for a successful integration are the logistic processes and strategies on the terminal. Both are not included in the layout planning, but are essential for a valid and realistic simulation model. Therefore, relevant process and strategy variations as well as typical research questions are defined. The integrated approach is an innovative solution to optimize planned as well as existing terminals. Typically, conducting layout planning and simulation studies separately is a very time consuming task. Integrating both is more efficient, closer to reality and more cooperative by allowing to involve more stakeholders at an earlier stage.