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Quick Tip: Comparison of Run Alternatives in ARENA


Undoubtedly one of the most popular and widely used simulation software, ARENA is a powerful tool for modeling complex systems. Based on the complexity of the system you are modeling, you need to take a long run to eliminate initial bias in the system or take several replications to get a more accurate estimation. In this post, I will briefly show the running options in ARENA to shorten your running time. I am using ARENA 13.50 Student Version, but the things discussed here are also applicable for other versions of ARENA.

First and traditional way of getting a simulation run is pressing the “Go” button as highlighted in the following screenshot. When you click this button, your model will start to move with a normal speed. Advantage of using this button is; you can observe the movements of entities and changes in the system continuously.


Go button is the traditional way of running a simulation model.

You can speed up or down by using the slider next to control buttons.


You can see the state of the model (queue length, entities arrived, etc.) if you use “Go” button. You can also speed up and down whenever you need.

Second way is actually another button in the control panel, which is used for fast-forwarding. If you want to skip a large portion of your simulation run and slow down after a while, it is a good practice to use fast-forward button. Consider a case that you want to inspect the system state in 9th month of simulation time, where the button comes handy. “Fast-forward” button is the second right button starting from “Go” button, with a double triangle symbol. When you are fast-forwarding, total running time will be much less compared to using only “Go” button. You can track the current simulation time from the bottom bar in ARENA:

Don't forget to track simulation time when you are using fast-forward.

Don’t forget to track simulation time when you are using fast-forward.

Third way is the fastest way to obtain simulation result. If you are concerned with observing the system state visually, there is a really fast way to complete your simulation run. We will call it as “Batch Run”, ARENA eliminates all animations if you use this option. You can open and close this option from the menu bar, click to Run / Run Control / Batch Run (no animation) in order. Then click to “Go” button, you will see that simulation is much faster now.


Run / Run Control / Batch Run. This option gives the fastest speed.

You can also disable generation of report database (from the Run / Run Setup menu and Reports tab), which may improve the performance:

Disabling generation of report database

Disabling generation of report database

I modeled a very basic system (1 create, 1 process (with 1 resource) and 1 dispose) with the system default values and took a simulation run. I set the simulation length to 2 years and measured the total time of each method. Here are the results:

Table 1: Time Comparison of Alternatives
Method Total Time
Go Button (Default Speed) 46 seconds
Go Button (Speed Up w/ Slider) 21 seconds
Fast-Forward 11 seconds
Batch Run – Go Button 1 second

As you see it’s a great improvement. Long story short: by using running option you need, it is possible to get results instantly in ARENA.

You can also check the following slide titled “A Guided Tour Through ARENA“.

And if you know other running options for ARENA share with us!

Sertalp Bilal Çay

PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant in Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Lehigh University. Researcher on Conic Optimization, Inventory Theory, Supply Chain Management and Simulation. Blog: sertalpbilal.com