Ancient Silk Road – First Global Supply Chain

Imagine it is the year 210 A.D. and you are the head of the largest merchant trading house on the Silk Road. The long prosperity of the Pax Romana has created strong demand in the Roman Empire for the luxury products that you import from China and India. Chief among those products is silk. Everybody who is anybody wants their clothes made of silk.

Along the four thousand miles of the Silk Road stretching from the borders of the Roman Empire in the west to the Middle Kingdom (China) in the east, there are many cities and many merchants, yet all know your company and your name — you are the Merchant House of Barmakid in the city of Merv.

Take2-Silk Rd Map
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An Engaging Process for Teaching about Supply Chains

When students apply theories and concepts from their readings and lectures to solve problems in realistic simulations of actual supply chains around the world, then they are connecting learning with practice. It has a powerful effect. Watch your students’ understanding and knowledge retention accelerate.

Instructor Feedback on Using SCM Globe

Quoted below is an email we got from one professor at the end of a five week intensive supply chain management course he taught:

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Lessons Learned From Wargaming

“We wargame because we must. There are certain warfare problems that only gaming can illuminate.” – Robert Rubel, Professor Emeritus, Naval Warfare Studies, U.S. Naval War College.

Military organizations have been using games to train their officers and predict possible outcomes of future battles since the Prussian Army began using the game “Kriegsspiel” some 200 years ago ( This shouldn’t be surprising if we accept the notion that games are a biological adaptation in mammals to gain survival skills. In nature, play is the activity of practicing survival skills in low-urgency situations that can then be used in high-urgency, life-and-death situations. This is exactly the way the military uses wargames.

Could we use games to explore different supply chain options, just as the military uses games to explore different strategies? Could a supply chain game show us the best supply chain solutions the same way wargames show the best strategies? If so, what would that supply chain game look like? Continue reading

Using Supply Chain Simulations to Train Disaster Response Managers

If first responders in a disaster do not get the supplies and equipment they need when they need them, then they cannot do their jobs. Dr. Dennis Duke from Florida Institute of Technology and Michael Hugos from SCM Globe co-presented a paper at the ITEC Conference in Prague CZ ( the use of simulations to train disaster response managers to set up and operate effective supply chains.

We built a scenario based on the flooding disasters that happened in central Europe in 2002, 2010 and 2013. SCM Globe was used to design supply chains for responding to this scenario and exploring different options. We applied a three-part framework to describe activities in the disaster management life cycle as shown below.

[This flooding disaster scenario is available as a case study in the SCM Globe library – “Disaster Response Supply Chains – Flooding Scenario]


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SCM Globe Wins Entrepreneurship Contest at MODSIM World

MODSIM World is dedicated to promoting cooperation among academia, industry and government for applying modeling and simulation technologies to help organizations anticipate and prepare for the future. Governor Terry McAuliffe of the state of Virginia gave the keynote address to open the conference which was held in Virginia Beach. He spoke about his plans for developing business and economic opportunities in Virginia, and the role that modeling and simulation plays in exploring possibilities and making those plans a reality.

In the second annual entrepreneurship competition at MODSIM World (, Michael Hugos made the presentation for SCM Globe. We were selected from a field of contestants by judges and conference attendees as the winner. Contestants were judged on considerations ranging from “the cool factor” to ease of use, affordability, and potential for making a significant impact and positive contribution to how work and training is done in a given profession or industry.

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Four Reasons to Use Simulations for Supply Chain Learning

There’s an old saying that goes like this, “Amateurs talk strategy, and professionals talk logistics.” Logistics has always been the foundation upon which successful strategies support themselves. Now in our interconnected and globalized world, skills in logistics and supply chain management are more crucial than ever. In this article we’ll discuss four key reasons for using simulations to develop world-class supply chain professionals.

Key Reason 1. There are Two Kinds of Knowledge — We Need Both

There are two ways of knowing things, and they build upon each other. Those two ways are:

  • Tacit knowledge – difficult to articulate; usually defined as “know-how” or “street-smarts”. It can be transmitted through stories, through social interactions in a group, and through personal experience.
  • Explicit knowledge – codified in language and discourse. It is the facts and figures that can be transmitted by books and dialogue.

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Supply Chains of Rome – Mental Models

What we are seeing in this supply chain model and these simulations is the mental model you created and the intuitive understanding or “street smarts” you have acquired that enable you to comprehend and manage the business. This mental model enables you to run scenarios in your head and see how the different parts work together, the products, facilities, vehicles, and routes, and how changes to one affect all the others. (This article picks up where the previous one, Supply Chains of Rome — The Olive Oil Trade, left off.) Continue reading

Supply Chains of Rome – The Olive Oil Trade

You’ve worked in the family business for years and learned the olive oil trade. Your uncle just retired and now you run the show; it’s your time to show what you can do. And to be blunt about it, the family expects you to make money and grow the business – their livelihoods depend on it. Let’s take a look at the operations you manage. (This article picks up where the first article in the series, Supply Chains of the Roman Empire, left off.) Continue reading

Supply Chains of the Roman Empire

Imagine it is the year 300 AD and you have just been promoted to run the family business. Your family is one of the wealthiest families in Roman Africa – the Septimii. The family owns extensive olive growing estates and is a major player in the olive oil export business. Are you up to the challenge of running this operation?

The Roman Empire got most of its wheat and a large portion of its olive oil from its provinces in North Africa. The province of Tripolitania (now part of Libya) produced an enormous amount of oil (olive oil), and huge fortunes were made growing olives and exporting the oil to Rome. Here is a picture of that supply chain.

Leptis Olive Oil SC2
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Five Supply Chain Drivers

Supply chain capabilities are guided by the decisions you make regarding the five supply chain drivers.  Each of these drivers can be developed and managed to emphasize responsiveness or efficiency depending on changing business requirements. As you investigate how a supply chain works, you learn about the demands it faces and the capabilities it needs to be successful. Adjust the supply chain drivers as needed to get those capabilities.   Continue reading