Early this year we were contacted by a team of engineering students in Singapore who inquired about using our supply chain simulations to help them prepare for a regional supply chain contest:
My name is Tay Jia Shin and I am writing on behalf of our team consisting of Timothy Chu, Tan Wei Ren and Clarence Toh (CC’ed in this email). We are a team of final year engineering systems design students from Singapore University of Technology and Design studying a mixture of engineering and systems, business analytics, operation research and financial services.
Tay Jia Shin explained they were competing in the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) international case competition which is a chance for student teams to apply what they learn in their classes to analyze and respond to supply chain challenges drawn from real world situations.
They asked if we could provide them with complimentary supply chain simulation accounts to help them prepare for the upcoming competition in March. We agreed and in return asked them to provide a detailed evaluation of our application and suggestions for making it better. We also asked if we could write about them and their experience in the competition.
Winners of the Asia Pacific Regional Round
In the last week of February we heard back from Tay Jia Shin and the team:
Timothy Chu, Tan Wei Ren, Clarence Toh and I would like to inform you that our team have won first place in the regional round!!
After a tough fight, we came out first among the top 8 teams in Asia-Pacific. Over the past two months, our team has had weekly preparation meetings where we sequentially went through the SCM Globe Tutorials. Our majors are in engineering systems and we do not have in-depth supply chain knowledge or a business background like some of our formidable competitors. Yet, the use of SCM Globe allowed us to rapidly understand the mechanics of supply chain. It played a vital role in our win. Again, we would like to thank you for allowing us generous use of your software SCM Globe over the past weeks.
[ Announcement of the 8 winning teams who will compete in the final round in September]
Tay Jia Shin attached a picture of the team. They competed against teams from some of the best universities in the Asia Pacific region. They have reason to be proud.
From left to right is: Timothy Chu; Clarence Toh; Tan Wei Ren; and Tay Jia Shin
About 30 days from now in September they compete in the final round of this supply chain competition at the ASCM Annual Conference 2020.
They asked if we could extend their complimentary accounts to help them prepare for the final round. How could we say no? We are honored that they find our simulations useful.
Then we listened to their feedback. Here’s what we heard:
- Great for designing and improving geographical supply chain networks
- Rapid set up of supply chain models for simulation
- Downloading of simulation data for further analysis
- Web-based app so no compatibility problems (Apple, Windows, Linux etc.)
- Specifically designed for simulating supply chains
- Well thought out tutorials make the app easy to learn and use
- Simulations stop when error condition is detected in a supply chain
- Animation in simulations showing vehicles moving on routes and other onscreen data displays could be improved
- The sign up process for registering on SCM Globe and activating an account is confusing
- Create a “test mode” where a simulation can continue to run even when products on-hand at facilities run out or when products exceed storage capacity at facilities. Although this can’t occur in real life, letting it happen in simulations lets users see where the supply chain “goes negative” and helps them to debug their supply chain design
- Build more optimizing capability into the supply chain modeling logic. The information entered by users to create the supply chain model can be used to feed optimizing algorithms for improvements in placement of facilities and production rates plus scheduling and routing of vehicles.
- Add multi-user capabilities to improve the use of simulations in a collaborative project where multiple people are working on the design of a supply chain simultaneously online from geographically dispersed locations.
- “There is always somewhat a trade-off between features and usability / complexity. The challenge, we feel, is to implement these new features that can benefit the advanced user while not putting off the new user.”
- “A business user who is well-versed in supply chain, for example, might have different needs than a learner user who is new to supply chain. As engineers, we encounter such challenges frequently and use the method of ‘design-thinking’ taught by our school to reconcile all these small details and see the big picture.”
Keep Growing and Improving
We’re particularly impressed by their considerations. It shows their skill as engineers. They are looking at our application from the perspective of different kinds of users and applying design thinking, not just technical thinking to solve problems. They are the kind of well-rounded engineering professionals the world needs now.
We believe we have improved and clarified the process for registering and activating accounts (it is Step 1 of the 6 steps for getting started – please let us know what you think).
And we agree with their thoughts about advanced users who are well-versed in supply chain practices, and beginners who are just starting to learn about supply chains. So their other suggestions for improvement, along with more ideas we’ve gotten from other feedback, are being implemented in our new Enterprise Edition. It is in development now and is designed for advanced business users who want and need more sophisticated features.
Tay Jia Shin, Timothy Chu, Tan Wei Ren, and Clarence Toh have shown they are already talented engineers. They are well on their way to accomplishing much in their careers. Best wishes for your success in the upcoming worldwide finalist round of the ASCM Supply Chain Competition.