How to Work with Case Studies

SCM Globe is the laboratory or “sandbox” where you apply principles and practices of supply chain management learned in readings, lectures and work experience to respond to real supply chain challenges in realistic simulations. You can either create your own supply chain models from scratch, or you can work with a supply chain model that is already in the SCM Globe library of case studies.

As you work with any case study or any supply chain model and simulation that you build on your own, you will find it useful to know answers to the most frequently asked questions and problems — take a minute to read through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

The goal with most case studies is first 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 across the supply chain. 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.

Using SCM Globe is all about designing supply chains and simulating their operations to see how well they work. When problems occur in a simulation, you edit your supply chain model to fix those problems and run the simulation again to see the effect of your changes. Cycle through several rounds of editing and simulation until you get a supply chain that runs for 30 days. Then refine your supply chain model to reduce transportation costs and operating costs plus on-hand inventory at facilities across the supply chain.

There is a collection of case studies available in the SCM Globe Library. 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 introductions (you can also click on the “Case Studies” menu option above and select case studies from the drop down menu).

As shown in the screenshots below, you access the case study library 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 case studies (2) and click the “Import” button to load a selected case study into your account. Then click “My Account” button (3) to go back to your account. In you account screen click the “Edit” button associated with the supply chain you want to work on.

Acct Scr1

When you load a case study from the library into your account, you click on the “Edit” button to see and change the supply chain model. The edit screen opens and you see the supply chain displayed on a map. Click on the “Simulation” button in the upper right corner of the edit screen and a new tab will open in your web browser for the simulation. Then click on the “Play” button in the simulation screen to start the simulation.

In every case study the best way to explore and find good solutions is to go back and forth between editing the supply chain model 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.

A popular case study to start with isCincinnati Seasonings. In the Cincinnati Seasonings case study the simulation cycles through two days and then it finds a problem in the Ft. Wayne Store – it has run out of storage space for products. Now you make decisions on how to fix this problem. There is no one “right answer”. You have many options for fixing problems. Once you fix that problem there are other problems the simulation will find, such as running out of products at the Louisville store as shown in the screenshot below.

Sim Finds Error (click screenshot for larger image)

To respond to problems 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 reduce delivery amounts (drop qty). In other cases you may want to adjust production rates and delivery schedules. Take whatever actions you think are needed. You will see some actions work better than others (remember to click the “Update” button in dialog boxes when you make changes).

Then go to the second browser tab, the SIMULATION 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 “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. Because the simulations accurately model real world supply chains, the techniques you use to handle challenges in these case studies will also work to handle similar challenges in real supply chains. What you learn in SCM Globe is directly applicable to the real world.

TIP: Save backup copies of your supply chain model from time to time as you make changes. Then if a change doesn’t work out, you can restore from a saved copy.

Simulations give you lots of performance data to use in refining your supply chain model. Apply supply chain principles and practices that you learn in reading and lectures to solve the problems you encounter (learn more about using simulation data in “Analyzing Simulation Data“). 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.

When working with case studies there are some things you SHOULD NOT DO because they don’t make business sense, or they don’t make logistics sense. In 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.

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.

Cincy Season Collage

NOTE: You can run simulations for longer than 30 days, but there is usually little reason to do so. This is because most companies do not run their supply chains unchanged for longer than 30 days at a time. They use a 30 day S&OP (sales and operations planning) cycle and these simulations correspond to that S&OP cycle.

Before starting work on your case study be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs and avoid the most common causes of confusion.

IF YOU ENCOUNTER A PROBLEM — and it is not described in the FAQs, then contact with a description of the bug and also attach a copy of your supply chain model. We can load your model and investigate your bug. To attach a copy of your model read the instructions to Download and Share Supply Chain Models.

This online user guide has answers to your questions about building supply chain models, making changes to the supply chain entities (products, facilities, vehicles and routes), and simulating supply chain operations. The online user guide opens in a separate browser tab. Leave that browser tab open as you work, and use the menu at the top of every page in this guide to find what you need when you need it.


Register on SCM Globe to gain access to all case studies. Click the blue “Register” button on the home page ( and buy a subscription (if you haven’t already) using a credit card or PayPal account. Then go to the SCM Globe library and click the “Import” button next to this case study. Scan the “Getting Started” section (if you haven’t already), and you are ready to go. To share your changes and improvements to this model with other SCM Globe users see “Download and Share Supply Chain Models


Copyright © 2016 by SCM Globe Corp.