Florangela Papa, LEED AP – Project Architect and Planner, Array Architects
Ryan Keszczyk – Intern Architect, Array Architects
We are Healthcare Architects. When designing for the healthcare industry, we must respond to the increasing complexity of demands and restrictions based on spacing limitations, budgets, and resources. As our healthcare clients adapt to their changing needs and experience a shift in operations and process, we needed to find a way to use real-time information and data to generate both tangible and quantifiable statistics that could be used to steer design. These criteria led us to search for new tools that would allow us to analyze this data in a way that could improve our design process. Simulation modeling is a tool that has drastically impacted the design process, increasing the value, flexibility, and quality of our designs while staying within the confines and restrictions of each individual project. The once static historical data on spreadsheets and charts can now be analyzed in a visually dynamic way. Using this technology we are able to visually see system bottlenecks and flawed areas of the process that have the most potential to improve the design, all in a virtual environment, before the project is too far along in the design process. With simulation we can:
-Analyze existing conditions and identify areas within the project scope that need development and offer the most value and improvement to the facility.
-Create project specific analyses and solutions that become the guiding force of a design, rather than using standard baseline benchmarks.
-Identify and analyze system flows and processes that can be improved with the introduction of lean design practices.
-Quickly test different scenarios which give the client the ability to weigh the outcomes and make an informed and confident decision.
Simulation modeling is used in early stages of design to influence programmatic developments. For example, using simulation modeling we are able to specifically calculate the number of patient rooms a department may need to minimize wait time and further improve quality of care. Through the modeling process we are able to ensure that the critical elements are precise, not just for a typical day, but have the ability to perform in “worst case scenario” circumstances. With the broad scope of a project determined, modeling can be used at a focused scale to evaluate the inter-dependencies of individual elements within the system and influence the design accordingly (i.e. patient room flow, nurse station flow, etc.)
Simulation Modeling is often considered both an art and a science. Models can be developed to produce extremely rigorous and complex systems, but also need to strike the right balance of simplicity and usefulness. As architects we needed a simple tool that could give us the benefits of simulation, without requiring too extensive of a statistics and engineering expertise – this isn’t our strength, nor is it how we are compensated. After evaluating different software, Array selected ProModel’s Process Simulator because:
– It has a user-friendly interface with visually dynamic graphics.
– ProModel offers effective training and tutorials backed by great technical support
– There is a variety of graphics (graphs, charts, histograms, time plots) that are easily customizable to meet the needs of the project through the output viewer.
– The software has the ability to create simple or complex models, which allows the flexibility to model for a variety of project types. We are able manage many projects on our own, but can also team with ProModel’s experts as we tackle more complex problems.