Simulating Print Production System Through System Dynamics Modeling Towards Productivity Improvement in Order Fulfillment

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Simulating Print Production System through System Dynamics Modeling towards Productivity Improvement in Order Fulfillment

Ma. Crea Eurice D. Santos


The production system in logistic operations is an important function that significantly determines an organization’s performance in delivering customer requirements. This study investigates on the production system of a generic commercial printing company with the goal of understanding interrelationships of operation parameters towards influencing print productivity in relation to business logistic function of order fulfillment. Simulating the cause and effect relationship of print production work flow considering feedback mechanisms presents a comprehensive representation of the system’s complexity whereby interplay of associated variables and parameters are examined. Specifically, through developing alternative mental models, opportunities at both strategic and operational level can be exploited based on impact assessment of policies and decisions from simulation runs of different scenarios

Keywords: System Dynamics, Print Production, Order Fulfillment


Worldwide manufacturing industries are in constant search for means of producing faster, cheaper, and better products or services(Uribe, 2008). In line with this, production takes a dominating and strategic logistic function in the process of order fulfillment (Helbing & Reichel, 1998). However, despite increasing technology in the printing industry added to widely available management tools, print productivity still has fallen further behind other manufacturing industries (Grant, 2003; Uribe, 2008; Zeng, Lin, Hoarau, & Dispoto, 2009). In response to this, a system dynamics approach, modeling print production system, is provided to better understand the interrelationships between operation parameters and to uncover feedback loops influencing overall organization productivity. Analysis of the cause and effect relationships of print production variables exposes underlying reasons for lagging behind the average productivity levels. Specifically, simulating print production mental models provides an overview of system behavior whereby opportunities at both strategic and operational level are identified and exploited.

Commercial printing embodies a diverse, complex, and dynamic system(Uribe, 2008; Romano, Fawcett, & Soom, 2003). Its diversity is rooted to wide customized product offering possibilities. Particularly, commercial printers are involved in the manufacture of various custom printed products including flyers, posters, brochures, books, newsletters, invitations, packaging materials, and many more(Romano, Fawcett, & Soom, 2003). This make-to-order production system makes productivity improvements quite a challenge(Uribe, 2008). Industry complexity, on the other end, transpires as diversity is complemented with mass production. More to this high customization high volume not-so-good match structure, complexity is intensified as it is classified as both a capital- and labor- intensive industry (Uribe, 2008; Zeng, Lin, Hoarau, & Dispoto, 2009). The highly diverse and dynamic job mix hence result to different print system configuration involving several work flows and varying combinations of equipment, resources, and business models (Kipphan, 2001; Uribe, 2008). In view of that, this highly complex and dynamic nature of print production system makes it viable for a system dynamic approach investigation. In so applying systems thinking, further knowledge and comprehension enables management to not only create better strategies and decisions but more so to determine the effectiveness of the proposed solution immediately, without the need of waiting for results and actual application to the system which may be too costly and risky.

Generally, there is much to explore in the world of printing. Today, just like several other industries, it has been highly populated with printers that...
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