“The Beer Game Simulation”
The Beer Game Simulation
Jul 2, 2002
- 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.
- Type of Material:
- Text (lecture/presentation) AND simulation to dynamically illustrate text
- Technical Requirements:
- Access to internet.PC (cannot run on MAC).
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
- 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,
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Creative Commons: