Managing operations in real time

April 30th, 2013 by under Classes, MBA, Robert H. Smith School of Business. No Comments.

The only core class I am currently taking is Operations Management. Like some of the other classes I’ve taken, such as Understanding Organizational Change, this class involves an online simulation. What’s interesting about this simulation is that it is a week-long, 24-hour simulation.

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My team, cranberries, has spent most of the simulation in the top five of the team standings.

Though details of the simulation aren’t particularly interesting (we have to manage the operations of a fictional technology company through a four-step process), the simulation itself is quite addicting. On multiple occasions, I have found myself frequently refreshing my team’s simulation page, tracking our progress and anticipating when we could take our next action.

The key to the simulation is to expand the plant’s capacity to address bottlenecks, while also making sure that your team has enough inventory to meet demand. The simulation began on day 50 of operations, and my team noticed that the plant had run out of inventory at times during the first 49 days. So, one of the first steps my team took was to increase our inventory repurchase point, yet we briefly ran out of inventory early in the simulation, forcing us to further raise the repurchase point.

So far, my team has been very successful in implementing our plan; we’ve purchased two new machines, which has relieved all bottlenecks and reduced lead times to the point where we can charge the highest possible price for our goods. Going forward, it seems to be just a matter of optimizing our inventory repurchases to keep the associated costs minimal, while also making sure we never run out of inventory.

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