There is a collection of case studies available in the SCM Globe Library. Each case explores a different set of supply chain issues. Find out about them by going to the “Supply Chain Case Studies” section of this guide. Click on the case studies listed there and read their online introductions. For each case there is a Case Study Concept at the beginning of the introduction summarizing the issues explored in that case. Read the full online introduction for a case when you start working with it.
As shown in the screenshots below, you access the case study library from your Account Management screen by clicking on the “View Library” button (1) in upper right corner of the account management screen as shown below. In the library you can see a list of supply chain models (2). Click the “Import” button next to a desired supply chain, and give it a name and click the “Save” button. This saves a copy of that supply chain into your account. Then click “My Account” button (3) to go back to your account. In your account screen click the “Edit” button associated with the supply chain you want to work on.
Improving your Supply Chain Design based on Simulation Results
If you have already watched this video, then review the screenshots and text below to learn more about how to work with case studies. This video shows examples from the Cincinnati Seasonings case study, but what you see here applies equally to any other case study.
Simulations find problems and identify areas for improvement in your supply chain. Apply what you learn in your class and what you already know about supply chains to fix problems you find in the simulations. Solutions that work well in simulations will also work well in real supply chains. Skills you acquire working with these simulations are directly applicable to the real world. Learn more about analyzing simulation results and making improvements to your supply chain in “Analyzing Simulation Data“.
A Popular Case to Start with is “Cincinnati Seasonings“
Cincinnati Seasonings explores a relatively simple supply chain composed of one factory, one distribution center (DC), and three stores. As the case study progresses, you are challenged to expand the supply chain to support the company’s growth. And as you do this, you’ll need to find ways to keep operating costs and inventory levels as low as possible while still meeting customer demand at a growing number of stores.
In this case study you learn about the basics of setting up a supply chain and managing its daily operations. You create facilities, vehicles and routes needed for different supply chain designs to respond to different challenges. And you run simulations that show how well your designs work. Based on what the simulations show you, you keep improving your design to get the best performance. In this process, you gain an appreciation for some of the key challenges involved in operating any supply chain.
When you import a copy of the Cincinnati Seasonings supply chain into your account you can click on the “Edit” button next to it in your account screen. When you do it will open up the model of the supply chain in the Edit screen as shown below.
In the Edit screen you can inspect the model and make any changes you want. Then you click on the “Simulation” button in the upper right corner of the Edit screen and it opens the Simulate screen in another browser tab next to the Edit screen browser tab. When you click on the “Play” button in the Simulate screen the Cincinnati Seasonings simulation cycles through two days and then it finds a problem — a store has run out of storage space for its products. Now you make decisions on how to fix this problem.
There is No Single “Right Answer”
You have many options for fixing problems and some work better than others (just like the real world). Apply best practices and techniques from your readings and course lectures. Look at the information available on the Simulate screen to figure out what to do. When you fix one problem the simulation will find other problems, such as running out of products at a different store as shown in the screenshot below. You will see that sometimes a solution to one problem can cause another problem to occur somewhere else. As you work with any of the cases and respond to the problems that arise you see how the four entities (products, facilities, vehicles, routes) interact with each other, and you learn how to co-ordinate their operations so as to get good overall supply chain performance.
To fix problems found in simulations, go to the first browser tab — the Edit Screen, and make changes to the supply chain model. Click on “Facilities”; and highlight the facility where a problem occurs. A dialog box appears, and you can click on the numbers in order to edit them. You may want to increase storage capacity at the facility, or you might increase or reduce delivery amounts (drop qty) of products to a facility (a stop) on a delivery route. At other times you may want to adjust factory production rates and delivery schedules (delay between departures) for vehicles. Take whatever actions you think are needed. You will see some actions work better than others (remember to click the “Update” button in entity dialog boxes when you make changes).
Then go to the second browser tab — the Simulate Screen, and run a simulation. Click the browser refresh button or the “Reload Supply Chain” button to incorporate the changes you just made. Then click “Play” to run the simulation again. Depending on the changes you make, your supply chain simulation will run for additional days, and other problems will arise. Do whatever you feel you need to do to get the simulation to run for 30 days (as you make changes to your supply chain the Butterfly Effect will cause your simulation results to differ somewhat from others working on the same case study).
In every case study the best way to explore and find good solutions is to go back and forth between editing the supply chain and simulating the results of those edits. Simulations show points of failure in the supply chain and provide data you can use to fix those problems. Edit the supply chain model to fix the problems. Then run the simulation again. Continue this iterative process until you get a supply chain model that performs well.
In “Cincinnati Seasonings“ and in other case studies, once you stabilize a supply chain by getting it to run for 30 days, you are then challenged to extend and adapt your supply chain to respond to new events such as expanding to support new stores, moving to a different mode of transportation, or opening a new distribution center. The simulations accurately model real supply chains, so solutions that handle challenges in the case studies will also work to handle similar challenges in real supply chains. Companies use SCM Globe to create models and simulations of their actual supply chains and explore options for improvement. What works well in the simulations will also work well in the real world.
The goal is first to get the supply chain to run for 30 days — then get it to run for 30 days at the lowest operating costs and lowest amounts of on-hand inventory. As you figure out how to do this, you will gain an intuitive sense for how supply chains work, and develop your analytical skills for exploring different options.
Notes for Working with Supply Chain Case Studies
- Simulations are typically for 30 – 60 day periods. You can run simulations longer than that, but there is little reason to do so. This is because most companies do not run their supply chains unchanged for longer than 30 – 60 days at a time. Most companies use a 30 day S&OP cycle (sales and operations planning cycle) and these simulations correspond to that S&OP cycle.
- Products are usually defined as standard shipping case or pallet load quantities, not individual items. For instance, if Product A is typically shipped in cases of 100 items, then define Product A using the price, weight and volume data for a 100 item case, not an individual item. Products can be defined in amounts equal to cases, pallets, or even 40 foot shipping containers. You would only define products as individual items if you were modeling a small supply chain in great detail.
- SCM Globe is used to model and simulate real supply chains so you can zoom in on the map and switch to satellite view to place your facilities exactly where they really are or where you want them to be. And all numbers in any model can be changed as needed to more accurately describe actual products, facilities, vehicles and routes. But when using simulations as a learning tool in a case study it does not make sense to change some default values even though the software will let you do so.
- SOME DEFAULT VALUES IN A CASE STUDY SHOULD NOT CHANGE because it either doesn’t make business sense, or doesn’t make logistics sense. When working with case studies, don’t reduce product demand, and don’t reduce product prices – that makes no business sense (business is about increasing demand and profits). And don’t simply increase or decrease inventory on-hand amounts at the start of a case study – it makes no logistics sense (inventory doesn’t just appear or disappear). See further explanation of do’s and don’ts in Case Study Caveats and Taboos.
Simulations Generate Lots of Performance Data
Use this data in refining your supply chain model. Learn more about using simulation data in “Analyzing Simulation Data“. Apply supply chain principles and practices that you learn in course reading and lectures to solve the problems you encounter. Try different courses of action and run simulations to see what works best. Be creative. In the process you will come to understand a lot about how supply chains work, and you can use what you learn to solve problems in real supply chains too.
As you build new supply chains or add new products, facilities, vehicles and routes to existing supply chains please read “Tips for Building Supply Chain Models“.
Once you get your simulation to run for 30 or more days you can download the simulation data to a reporting template and produce monthly Profit & Loss reports plus key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the example shown below. These reports will help you spot areas for improvement in your supply chain. And they also serve as an objective measure to compare the value of different supply chain designs. See more about using simulation data to produce these reports in “Analyzing Simulation Data” – scroll down to the heading “Download Simulation Data to Spreadsheet Reporting Template“.
AT FIRST you may feel a bit confused or overwhelmed as you start working with supply chain models and simulations. But go ahead and jump in. It will get better as you go, and then it will “click”. It’s like learning the steps to a new dance – really awkward – then suddenly you get it – and it’s fun… 🙂 That’s how one instructor describes it in What You Learn from Case Studies and Simulations.
…ONE MORE THING — take a few minutes to read the seven Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
SAVE BACKUP COPIES of your supply chain model from time to time as you make changes. There is no “undo”, but if a change doesn’t work out, you can restore from a saved copy. And sometimes supply chain model files (json files) become damaged and they no longer work, so you want backup copies of your supply chain to restore from when that happens.
Download and Share Supply Chain Models to send a copy of your supply chain (json file) to other SCM Globe users.
Student Accounts default to 90 days from date of purchase – if your semester is a few weeks longer please send email to: email@example.com – tell us your semester end date and we’ll extend your account.