Variant panels allow users to experiment with alternative model structures contained on a panel and identify the best combination of such alternatives across multiple variant panels. Variant panels have many uses in Silico, such as exploring how a change to a step can affect the entire process or company.
Creating a Variant Panel and Variants
Create a standard panel by right-clicking anywhere in the Model Builder and selecting ‘Panel’ or type ‘P’ on your keyboard. Select your new panel and, in its inspector, enable the ‘Variant Panel’ toggle. The panel may already contain any model structure except subpanels.
Once enabled, the inspector will display a list of variants of this variant panel. You can add further variants by clicking the ‘+’ button. You can rename or delete variants using the three dots to their right. We have named these ‘As-is’ and To-be’ for this demonstration. The variant marked “(active)” is used to calculate your model.
The left-hand side of the Model Builder will now contain a new section called ‘Variant Panels’. The dropdowns in this new section allow you to select the active variant for each variant panel. In the example below, the as-is variant is active, meaning that all variables in the model are calculated using the as-is variant.
You can also select the icon to jump into the active variant of the respective variant panel.
Changing Model Structure on Variant Panels
Elements that link out of the variant panel must be present on all variants. Suppose an element used outside the variant element is not on all variants. In that case, the model will be unable to determine which element from the variant panel to reference, resulting in an error.
Users can arbitrarily change their model’s structure on variants, including changing values, changing equations, deleting elements, and adding elements. For example, inside our variant panel, we have created a basic process where orders come in, are reviewed by a team and then leave the process. In our panel, we have added this process flow.
We want to explore how introducing automation to a step will affect the overall process. For this example, we have created three variants, the as-is process, a step with removed ‘Wait Time’ and a variant which removes ‘Wait Time’ and introduces 65% automation.
We have fundamentally changed how the process operates with two routes for an order to go - automated or manual processing. This may result in more orders flowing through this process.
Models may contain any number of normal panels and variant panels. You can identify a variant panel by its shape. Variant panels have rounded edges, whilst standard panels do not. ‘Confirm Order’ is a variant panel in the below example. Variant panels also indicate the active variant below their name.
Variant Panel Optimisation
Once you have created a model with one or more variant panels, you can use Silico’s Optimisation Dashboard to identify the best combination of variants for your process. Head over to the Dashboard area, select the three dots next to the dashboard name and click ‘Optimisation View’.
On the top left, you can select the KPI you wish to maximise or minimise. For this example, we will be maximising ‘Cumulative Profit’ in the base case. You can then click ‘Optimise’ and let Silico find the optimal solution. You can adjust the target variable, whether to minimise or maximise that variable, and for which scenario conditions to optimise.
Silico finds the best outcome for the process based on the variants created (green outcomes). It provides a quick and easy way to identify which process improvements are worth implementing and compare those to the base case (blue outcomes).
Disabling Variant Panels
If you no longer wish for a panel to be a variant panel, you can delete all but one variant on the panel’s inspector by selecting the three dots next to the variant name and clicking delete. When only a single variant is left, you can flick toggle “Variant Panel” off.