Supply Chain Management Simulation Activity

The Near Beer simulation demonstrates the difficulty of managing supply with customer demand and exemplifies the Bullwhip Effect in supply chain management. In essence, the simulation will show how difficult it is to match production and supply as customer demand changes. The free, limited use, Near Beer simulation has two levels, novice and expert. The novice level provides sufficient interaction for students to attempt to match inventory with customer demand. This simulation is appropriate to use in a principles of marketing course, to supplement the class discussion, and might be introduced at the conclusion of the first class session, to be completed by the end of the week, or conclusion of the class topic discussion. Depending upon the size of the class, students can complete the simulation individually, or in small (no more than three students) teams. I prefer to assign this activity individually. The objective is to balance inventory with demand, and reduce or avoid stock-outs and over-supply of inventory. Not as easy as it sounds! The effectiveness of meeting demand is measured in how many weeks it take to reach a balanced inventory. I have had students meet demand in as little as 6 weeks, while others may take as long as 16 weeks.