This module is a link to downloadable software called the ?AT Kearney Inventory Distribution Simulator.? Students can use this simulator to explore the interrelationships between and the effects of inventory and shipping delays in single-stage (1 level) and multi-stage (3 level) supply chain scenarios. Students can ?run,? save, and compare up to six different variable combination scenarios within the context of either a single-stage or multi-stage environment. The simulator also includes links to explanations about the ?insights? of the models. Links that illustrate specific causality relationships and equations for model variables are also available.
According to its author, Dr. Nathan B. Forrester of AT Kearney, Atlanta, this simulator ?illustrates how inventories and delays create overcompensation and fluctuation in supply chains? in single-stage (1 level) and multi-stage (3 level) supply chains. Vendor managed inventory (VMI) and randomness can be included in study of multi-stage scenarios.
Target Student Population:
Advanced audiences in Logistics, P/OM, and/or Supply Chain Management courses, i.e., advanced undergraduate students, graduate students. It could also be useful for professionals interested in increasing their understanding of supply chain models and concepts.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Students should be familiar with basic supply chain concepts and interrelationships to understand the structure of the simulator?s model. Students should also be comfortable with information presented in an analytical,
Type of Material:
Text (lecture/presentation) AND simulation to dynamically illustrate text concepts.
Access to internet.PC (cannot run on MAC).
Evaluation and Observation
This is a sophisticated tool to help more advanced audiences understand the inventory and shipment dynamics of single and multi-stage supply chain systems. The simulator is fairly complete in its overview of its underlying models, causal relationships, and even variable equations. The ?simulator dashboard? gives students the opportunity to experiment with different combinations of variables, save the results of each run, then compare these scenarios to understand relative effects. Options to print key information and results are provided. A reference for more information about the model is also listed.
Instructors would need to position the simulator and its objectives within the context of the course. Less sophisticated audiences may need explanation and instruction beyond the overviews included in the simulator.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The simulator is designed so that each students can approach it in whatever way best suits his or her preferred learning style; for example, students can read through the ?insights? and model background first, then try it all out by using the simulator?s ?dashboard.? Other students may jump into the dashboard first, then read the ?insights? and background after this experience. Students can also drill down to whatever level of detail they need to understand the interrelationships and effects of the model.Students can also print results to facilitate comparison.
This simulator can be an excellent tool for more advanced audiences, most likely within the context of a logistics, P/OM, or supply chain management course. Less sophisticated audiences would probably need more instructional support,
feedback, and aid in interpreting feedback than is provided.The simulation does not provide specific feedback to students when they compare results from various runs. Students need to develop this insight by comparing their results to various cause-scenarios and reflecting about how this compares to the model ?insights? presented by the author. Instructors could overcome this and further support students learning by requiring students to submit printout of their results/comparisons along with written reflections about these results and the understanding they facilitated.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Students can freely go between the simulator (dashboard) and more explanatory information. This makes the simulation relatively simple to use.
If students start the program with the simulator dashboard, they may have some trouble understanding the meaning of the various terms and variables presented. Explanation is available, however, under the ?insights? and especially the ?view model structure? selections listed in the bottom half of the main menu.