This is a logistics game based on the version originally developed at MIT in the 1960s to illustrate the ?bullwhip? effect that can occur in supply chains.The game simulates one year (52 weeks) of order or production decisions for four roles in a supply chain for beer: a retailer, wholesaler, distributor, and manufacturer. Players make an order decision (or production decision in the case of manufacturing) every week based on demand, stock, and backlog from the previous week. From one to four players can participate simultaneously; the system automatically fills in ?ghost? players to occupy unfilled role(s) when fewer than four players participate in a game.
Students can understand: 1. How order or production decisions for one ?link? (role) in the supply chain can affect inventory levels and costs for all other roles. 2. The ?bullwhip? effect that can result throughout the supply chain due to changes in demand.
Target Student Population:
College, graduate, or professionals in purchasing, marketing, logistics, or other supply chain related functions.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
An introduction to the concepts of supply chain and the simulation itself (rules, objectives, roles, etc.).
Type of Material:
Evaluation and Observation
This simulation enables up to four players to participate in an internet-based simulation that demonstrates the ?bullwhip? effect in an example supply chain. As such, it is significantly less time-consuming and less error-prone than manual, classroom-based versions of this popular game.
The simulation is simply the game: decisions, results, and a very simple ?rule of thumb? for evaluating the effectiveness of overall simulation performance. It does not include instructional elements, e.g., definitions of terms, overviews of concepts, help, feedback directly related to students? decisions or outcomes, etc. As such, this game is not a ?stand alone? module.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The simulation could be played in a variety of ways, ranging from:-one student assuming one role with the simulation assuming the other three- to four students playing at different locations.It is also technically possible for one student to assume all four roles as long as he/she joins the same game from four different browser windows.At the end of the game, player(s) receive a ?Cost, statistics? summary for their game including a: - cost score by player/role. - total team cost. - graphs illustrating order, stock, and cost by player/role throughout the simulated year.
There is little instructional guidance or decision-making support provided for students throughout the simulation. Instructors would need to supplement this before, during, or after the simulation. For example, before the simulation, instructors would need to explain basic supply chain concepts and relationships and the terms included in the simulation. Since no online decision making support (like graphs of past demand or decisions) is available online,
instructors would have to assign record-keeping tasks to students to help them keep track of relevant information. After the simulation, instructors would need to debrief with students to help them interpret and discuss their learning from the summary graphs and game overall ? and how the game can relate to real-world situations.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
MA-system?s Beer Game simulation is attractive and engaging. The instructions that are accessible before one starts the game (by accessing ?Rules of the Game?) are clear and easy to reference; players have the option of playing the game in a different window so that the instruction window can remain available for easy reference. The game also appeared to process quickly from round to round.
The ?instructions? link from the first screen of the Beer Game was not accessible. Since this help was not available and terms were not otherwise defined, players would have a difficult time setting up the game (i.e., choosing the ?playmode? of ghost setup roles for one-player game) and starting their decisions (i.e., understanding the relationship between orders, transports, stock, and backlog. After the game, student would probably need help interpreting their individual and team results and the interrelationships illustrated by the graphs. Instructor support before, during, and after the game would be necessary for most audiences.