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Labels Tutorial

We use Labels to attach a value or attribute to a work item.

At the moment, all the work items traveling through our simulation are the same, i.e. they have no distinguishing attributes.

We want to distinguish between different types of work item, for example by marking each one as either male or female.

Overview

We are going to use the structure below in order to create a simple example using labels.

We will assign a value to each work item, telling us whether it is male or female. We can then use this information to send the Male work items to the ‘Male’ queue, and the Female work items to the ‘Female’ queue.

Step One: Create a Label

First of all we need to create a new label.

Clicking on the Labels button on the Data and Rules tab takes you to a list of all the labels in your simulation. This will be blank if you have not previously created any labels.

Select ‘New’ to create a new label.

We need to enter a name for the label. Call your label lbl_gender. We now need to choose whether to create a number or text type label. Number type labels are more versatile because they can be used for mathematical functions later on, so it's generally a good idea to default to picking a number style label.

At this point you can also add a memo to your label. A memo won’t alter your label in any way. It is used just to remind you of what the different label values represent. We are going to give our lbl_gender 2 different values depending on whether a work item is male or female. Adding something like this to your memo box should remind you of what your values represent.

At this point we have created our label, but not attached it anywhere in our simulation. This will be the next step.

Step Two: Attach your Label

Labels can be attached in Start Points, Activities, and in Start Up in Queues. As a general rule, you should attach a label as soon as you know the relevant information. In our gender example, we could attach the label in either the Start or Activity, and the outcome would be the same. In larger simulations, however, it is important to think about where you might need to reference particular information. If you attach a label as soon as you know the information it contains, it will be there wherever you need it in your simulation.

We will attach lbl_gender in the Start Point in this example. To do this, select the Start Point in your simulation, and then choose Actions on the ribbon under the Properties tab.

The option Add a label to change allows you to pick the label you want to remove a label from here, click the label, and then choose Remove Selected.

Now add your label to the Start Point.

When this is done, you need to select one of the Action options on the right hand side of this dialog so that you can tell your simulation what to do with the label. Your Actions dialog should currently look like this.

Step Three: Set the value of your label

In this example we are going to say that each work item is equally likely to be a male or female. We can set up our simulation to reflect this, so that the label value is equally likely to be 1 or 2.

The mathematical equivalent of this likelihood is a Rounded Uniform Distribution with a Lower Bound of 1 and an Upper Bound of 2. This means that any value is equally likely to occur between the lower and upper bound, and only whole numbers can occur.

Effectively, we are saying that 1 and 2 are the only possible values, and each of these values are equally likely.

Step Four: Testing

Now that we have attached our label and set its value, we can test whether the label values are being correctly assigned to our work items.

In your structure, delete the routing arrow after the 1st queue so that it looks like this.

We can now run the simulation so that all work items remain in the first Queue. It is now possible to inspect all the label values of work items in this queue to check that we have a mix of male and females (values 1 and 2).

To check the contents of a Queue, first of all select the Queue, then go to its Advanced tab, and choose Contents. You can now scroll through each work item and see its value for lbl_gender. You should have a mixture of values 1 and 2.

You can now replace the routing arrow to link your simulation back together.

Step Four: Routing Out

The final stage is to control sending the right work items to the right Queues. We can do this using Routing Out in the Activity.

Select your Activity, then Routing Out on the ribbon. We are going to Route Out using the Label discipline because it is the label value which determines where the work items should go.

When you choose Label as your Routing out discipline, a dialog will open with a list of all the labels in your simulation.

Whichever queue you created first will take label value 1 by default, and whichever queue you created second will take label value 2, and so on. If these are the wrong way round, the pointer arrows can be used to change this ordering.

Make sure that label value 1 is being routed to the Male Queue and value 2 is being routed to the Female Queue, by checking the contents of each Queue in turn, the way we did above.

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