Tuesday, March 2, 2004

The Beer Game

We have a paper called "Supply Chain Management" this term which is pretty much a repeat of last term's "Operations Management"! Or so we thought! So, I for one, never used to pay much attention in SCM classes, save for the time when the prof comes up with questions for us to answer! Then my supreme need to assert myself as an OM expert (I was the topper last term! and it was my favorite subject too!) would come to the fore and my mouth will go blabbering! And if by fluke, some part of my sentence matched the answer, the Prof was always kind enough to never call attention to the other words! But today,I totally, badly got stumped!

Bright and raring to go this morning, I sat down before the computer and decided to give the Beer game a shot and test my real life SCM knowledge! And Lo and Behold, how the mighty fall!

Well, for the unaware few, beer game is a simulation designed by the MIT Sloan School of Management, to portray a real life imitation of the chaos that often reins in a badly managed supply chain. You would be required to take on the role of either the supplier, retailer, manufacturer or the distributor. And just like in real life, you get to decide the number of goods you want to produce or pass on to satisfy the customer orders! And there are ofcourse unfulfilled orders and stockout costs! The bullwhip effect would naturally come into effect too!(Dont have much patience to explain what the hell is a bullwhip effect! Sorry!)

I tried my hand at this online version of the game, one Near Beer Game by Forio, a company that produces simulation software. The aim of the game is to get your chain balanced at the shortest time possible in 50 weeks, given that customer order fluctuates at first and remains constant thereafter. My first attempt ended at 17 weeks, a pretty bad time frame! The next was not much better at 10 weeks (Not when my friend got it to balance at 4 weeks after just two trials!) and my last was 5 weeks before my intersest waned out! I kept at it one more time though and finally got it to balance at 4! Bad record for someone who hopes to top SCM this term!

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