- Pharma & medtech
- Denver, Colorado, U.S.
- Project goals
- Identify optimum areas for investment to improve turnaround times
Achievements with Simul8
Risk-free testing of ideas to tune the system to optimal performance
Discovered additional staffing would enable the lab to meet targets
Avoided costly investment in equipment that would not solve the problem
About the project
Faced with tighter funding and increased demand, many forensic laboratories are examining their processes to do more with their resources. DNA Units in particular have experienced a sharp rise in demand in recent years as a result of the growing use of DNA testing as an investigative tool.
Between 2001 and 2011, the DNA Unit of the Denver Police Department (DPD) Crime Laboratory saw a 228% increase in its caseload. Despite expanding the laboratory to improve capacity, the volume of cases submitted for DNA testing continued to lead to longer turnaround times (the time taken from when a lab request is a received until the results are reported).
With a growing backlog of work, identifying potential improvements became a challenge with limited flexibility to assess operational changes that could help to further increase capacity.
To overcome this challenge, the DPD Crime Laboratory turned to Simul8 simulation software to thoroughly evaluate two potential investment options for improving efficiency; purchasing additional equipment and hiring more staff.
What was the impact of hiring more staff?
Using the simulation, the Improvement Project Manager could then assess the DNA Unit staffing that would be required to meet its target case turnaround time.
By running trials with different levels of staffing in Simul8, the results showed that the ideal number of staff for the DNA Unit’s current caseload levels would be 14 fully trained analysts, accompanied by three lab technicians, three supervisors and one staff assistant.
To help understand the long-term impact and ROI of additional these analysts, the simulation run time was extended to three years. Using this approach, it was shown that four new analysts would provide the optimum return. The simulation also demonstrated that although hiring more than four analysts would drastically reduce the current backlog, by the second year the analysts’ utilization levels would drop to under 20% - making this investment inefficient in the long run.
The simulation revealed that when the DNA Unit reached optimum staffing levels with all staff fully trained, it would take six months to eliminate the existing backlog. After new staff are fully trained, this would enable the DNA Unit to achieve its target turnaround times of seven days for rush cases and 45 days for all other case types.