The other day, there was a friendly, unassuming E-Mail arrived in my account:

I’d be happy to contribute some technical articles to your blog, if you don’t mind.

This was followed by some seriously useful tactics for animating AnyLogic models, all wrapped up with nice pictures and example model files. Pretty much ready to be published.

So I didn't hesitate for a second and can proudly introduce Simulation101's first guest editor, Justin Rawlings. Justin works in Australia for the operations research department of Aurizon, looking at optimizing rail operations. Watch out for his first post, scheduled to hit very soon...

Here is a bit more about him, in his own words:

In my current role as a Senior Analyst inside the Operation Modelling team at Aurizon we are trying (and I believe succeeding) in developing a world-class rail-focused supply chain simulation framework. Past experiences with off-the-shelf solutions and external consultants were not successful in providing a platform sufficiently detailed and extensible enough to answer the key questions that arise when dealing with a system as complex as the Central Queensland Coal Network. Sometimes you just have to build it yourself!

We use a variety of tools and methods to get the job done - AnyLogic is the centrepeice of simulation logic. I find myself in a constant love-hate relationship with AnyLogic, some tasks are an absolute joy, while others become a complete nightmare.

I consider myself an very advanced user at this point only because I have gone to great lengths to push the boundaries of what AnyLogic can do in order to simulation a system of the size and complexity we are dealing with. (A prime example, I wrote a python script to take a GIS-layer of our ~2600km rail network and converted each track and switch to their RailwayTrack and RailwaySwitch XML representations and inserted them into a sample “.alp” file. )

Due to the nature of my work, my articles will be focused on the tips, tricks and strategies that I believe are critically important when building a large, hierarchical model using AnyLogic.

Hopefully readers can learn a lot from these ‘in-the-trenches’ findings.