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Playing the game

Setting up the tables and administering the game:

Table preparations

As illustrated in the figure, four fields have to be marked on each table by fixing to the table 4 sheets of paper using sticky tape. The same is done with the delay fields.

Cardboard boxes (or plastic cups) and envelopes have to be filled with small paper slips to pre-initialise the supply chain with orders and deliveries.

Every table has to be prepared with a stack of order and delivery slips to be used during the game.

Paper slips with the external demand progression have to be prepared that are handed to the retailer groups during the game.

Be aware: When administering more than one supply chain, assistants are needed to help with moving boxes and envelopes during the game.

Briefing the students

Provide a short introduction to the idea of the game, its history, structure, and rules.

When playing in more than one supply chain stress the fact that groups of each stage are competing with one another (e.g. retailer vs. retailer), in order to get the students to take playing seriously.

Trial rounds

Start playing initial trial rounds with the pre-initialised supply chain to make sure that everyone gets used to filling in play sheets and order/delivery slips.

What typically happens during these first few rounds is that people try to get rid of some of the inventory (e.g. 15 units) in order to manage their costs.

Step up the pace

Increase the pace of playing. Due to the initial behaviour, when the customer demand jumps to the higher level in round 6 the supply chain has adjusted to a low demand scenario.

When retailers then place their first large order they invariably initiate a bullwhip effect that perpetuates throughout the chain. What happens then is that all groups move deeply into backorder.

Due to delivery delays it takes quite some time for the beer to move through the supply chain, so that the players typically lose track of what they have ordered and order way too much. The consequence is that the supply chain is flooded with beer and the inventories overflow (around weeks 20-35).

The effect is that people cease ordering entirely; e.g. a lot of very small orders are placed. This is especially true for the higher stages of the supply chain.

End the game abruptly

The game is played for 40 to 50 rounds. The game is then stopped abruptly so that the students do not have time to react strategically to the coming end of the game.

The  final part of the game session is a short discussion directly after the game, where students are asked how they felt throughout the game and what they think the average customer demand was.

The next session after the beergame session is the debriefing session (see teaching section).

Overview

This section provides an overview of the beergame, its history, rules, and different versions of the game. It also describes the bullwhip effect.

Please note that all explanations given in this section are based on the modified table version of the beergame, for which I also provide the materials in the respective section.

 

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