The Near Beer Game is a simulation in supply chain management. Students act as a brewery that is experiencing demand fluctuations. Raw material orders must be placed in order to address consumer demand. This module highlights the difficulty of managing a supply chain because of the inherent delays in procurement and manufacturing. Site users adjust their procurement strategies in reaction to changing demand.
The major goal is to have the student understand how manufacturing and procurement delays result in the bullwhip effect when demand for a product changes.
Target Student Population:
This is ideal for a graduate or undergraduate supply chain course. It could also be used in any other marketing course that touches on supply chain issues.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Students would need some basic understanding of supply chains and demand management.
Type of Material:
This is an online simulation.
This is a nice illustration of the challenges in running a supply chain. It would make a nice assignment in the appropriate course. This could be assigned as homework (individual or team), with the score based on the number of weeks the student/team takes to balance the supply chain.
Users must purchase a subscription to use the full version and have access to the Internet to use both the full and trial version.
Evaluation and Observation
The site is clear and concise, and appropriately demonstrates the challenge of managing a supply chain under conditions of changing demand. he sample simulation is fairly straightforward. Both a novice and expert mode are available which would be appropriate for undergrads and graduates, respectively. A reading list also is provided. Students could be assigned the readings prior to participating in the simulation.
The simulation does not allow for adaptation of market demand, and so its use is not as flexible as it would be if the demand could be modified. Some students may be quickly frustrated by the task. This can be good and bad. Also, while a sample version is available, users are locked out after three days. A full version is available for purchase. However, unless being used for a supply chain course, most professors would be unlikely to use a supply chain simulation at a monetary cost to the students.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The sample version should prove effective in illustrating the challenges of managing a supply chain given consumer demand issues. The game can be played in a short period of time, thus quickly illustrating the concepts of supply chain management. The sample version is not a semester long simulation, and therefore, can be used by the instructor to quickly illustrate these concepts. The assigned list of readings should also increase the effectiveness.
The effectiveness of this as a teaching tool would be enhanced if the player did not have perfect knowledge of consumer demand. My main concern is that if students cannot figure out the simulation, they may become quickly frustrated and give up on the task. If this occurs, they may get nothing from this simulation.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is very easy to use and has good visual appeal.
It was not clear until later that the only decision the player has input into ls the procurement decisions.
Other Issues and Comments:
If effectively integrated into the course, this would be a nice hands-on assignment to illustrate supply chain management.