Frequently Asked Questions for Games

General Questions  Data & Plots  Littlefield  Supply Chain  Beer Game 

General Questions

Q: I am having trouble logging onto the site using our team name and password, can you help me?
A. If you cannot log into the simulator but your teammates can—you should ask for their help as your first course of action (this procedure is recommended for all questions encountered in the assignment). Our simulator will not recognize your login if an extra space is inadvertently added via Copy>Paste. Try carefully typing your information and clicking submit with the cursor. If everyone on your team is having a similar problem, please contact your instructor. To diagnose the problem and provide a solution, they will need the following details:

  1. The web address displayed in your browser, when you type in your team name and password.
  2. The team name and password entered into the form.
  3. The web address displayed in your browser when you see the error message.
  4. The exact wording of that error message.

Q: Help, I get a connection lost error whenever I try to log into my team!
A. Your browser is not submitting the form correctly. This is usually associated with using the enter key to submit a form. Try clicking the submit button with your mouse.

Q: I was typing quickly and accidentally created a team named blueto. Can it be deleted, so that I can join the rest of my team with the correct name bluetoo?
A. Log back into the errant team, delete your name and access code, and submit the now empty fields. You will be able to reuse your access code to register with the correct team—after the existing registration is erased.

Q: Can Littlefield run on a tablet (e.g., iPad)?
A.Yes, Littlefield runs on an iPad. On touch enabled devices Java is not required, an HTML5 plot is provided instead. Data files are not downloadable on those devices. Raw data can be viewed in an html table which could then be copy > pasted to a spreadsheet.

Q: How are days numbered?
A. You can think of the day counter as an odometer. The day counter starts on 0.000 and over the first day advances to 1.000. At that point, aggregate data for that first day is recorded in the various plots as data for day 1. If your assignment says, for example, that student access begins on day 50, that means the day counter would be at 50.0000. So 50 days would have elapsed at that point. The date displayed on the game page is the counter rounded down to the nearest integer. So if you are currently on day 100.33, the date at the top of the game page would be 100.

Q: How can I convert annual interest rate to daily interest rate?
A: In all our games, interest rates are effective annual interest rates.  For example, the daily rate corresponding to an annual rate of 10% is 0.02612% = (1+10%)^(1/365)-1 .

Q: Are teams credited capacity's and inventory’s salvage value after the last day?
A: Neither inventory nor capacity have salvage value on the last day. In the Littlefield game, for example, If a team wants the salvage value for a machine they must sell before losing control of their factory.

Q: Can inventory orders be purchased, even if they will not arrive before game's end?
A: Yes

Q: If order quantity is zero but reorder point is not, will it trigger an order of zero units and incur the fixed order cost?
A: No, if the order quantity is set to zero, future orders will not be placed and no ordering cost will be applied.

Q: On the other hand, if the reorder point is zero and order quantity is not, will it trigger an order when inventory hits zero?
A: Correct, a new order could be triggered whenever inventory levels are less than or equal to the reorder point setting.

Data & Plots

Q: I am unable to view data plots. Instead, a red X appears in the top left corner or I get a message saying an ActiveX plug-in is required.
A: Usually these symptoms mean Java is not working on your computer. Go to to download the most recent update. It should solve most problems with the data plots.

If you do not want to run Java, an option to view plots using a modern, HTML5 compliant browser is provided. Just click the corresponding radio button.

Q: We are having trouble downloading data from our game. The files are in an unknown format. Is there a way to open them with MS Excel?
A: Downloaded data files are tab delimited text format. They can be saved and opened with a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. You could copy > paste relevant data columns from each set into to a master worksheet for in-depth analysis.

If you are viewing our optional HTML5 plots, a button is provided which permits viewing tabular data within a browser. It could also be copy > pasted to a spreadsheet.

Q: When I download the inventory plot data, I get three records for day #43.08493. Which record should I use? Why isn’t the day an integer?
A: Inventory plots show the inventory on hand as a function of time. On most days there is only one entry for the day’s starting inventory. However, in Littlefield and the Supply Chain Game, inventory values are also recorded whenever the level reaches zero and whenever a new inventory arrives. If these events happen in the middle of a simulated day, the date will include a decimal extension showing the precise time.

Q: Help! I can no longer view one of the plots; all other plots are working.
A: Plot windows open in pop-up windows. New plots appear on the surface of the desktop. If you then open another window it comes to the surface of the desktop and may cover any open plot windows. Each plot is an independent pop-up window. If you click the plot data button, for a pop-up window that is currently open that graph will update, but the window doesn't rise to the surface of your desktop. You need to arrange your windows more carefully


Q: Our factory is quoting a contract having a 0.5 day promised lead time earning maximum revenue of $1250. There are several days where our lead times are less than 0.5 days but the revenue is still less than $1250. Is this an error in the program?
A: No, lead times and revenues are both reported as daily averages. An average usually consists of several data points. If just one order does not earn full revenue the average for that day will be less than the maximum. For example: two jobs are completed—one with a lead time of 0.35 days and one with a lead time of 0.55 days. The average lead time is 0.45 days, but revenues for the two jobs are $1250 and $1125. Thus, average revenue would be $1187.50 for that day.

Q: My assignment does not include the process times for each step. Is it realistic for an operation not to know how long each step takes?
A. Although an operation can be expected to know the time required for a physical transformation or assembly process, the entire time the step claims the machine also includes overhead such as loading and unloading the machine, setting up the step, and movement of materials within the machine. In fact, the overhead can actually be longer than the physical transformation or assembly part of the process. It is not unusual for such overhead times to be excluded from the process information kept in databases. Also, processes themselves can be tweaked and improved over time without updating records of the process times, leading to inaccurate data. If your course included reading the book The Goal, this was the reason the plant manager was unable to use the company's database to identify the plant's bottlenecks.

Supply Chain

Q: If a production batch is 600 barrels, will trucks leave the factory as each is filled with 200 barrels, or will three trucks leave the factory after all 600 units have been produced?
A: Three trucks leave the factory together—transportation does not begin until a production order is complete.

Q: Which priority level is higher, 1 or 2?
A: If two warehouses are triggering production from the same factory, the factory will produce for the warehouse with the priority level 2 until that warehouse is no longer triggering production. Then it will produce for the warehouse with the priority level 1.

Q: What happens when two regions have the same priority? Is it “first come first serve” or is an order chosen randomly from all orders that have been received at the factory?
A: If two warehouses have the same priorities, ties are broken in favor of the local warehouse until its finished goods inventory exceeds the reorder point. If a factory is on the continent, continental warehouses would be served before an island warehouse. If a factory is on the continent and serving multiple warehouses having identical priorities, the software arbitrarily picks one. Ambiguous priority settings cannot be used to create first-come-first-served or round-robin policies.

Q: If a customer order arrives, but it cannot be totally fulfilled within one simulated day, is the entire order lost?
A: No, only the unfulfilled portion of an order is lost—partial fulfillment is allowed.

Beer Game

Q: I registered for the wrong ebeer section. How do I move myself to a different section?
A: First remove yourself from the wrong section by going back to the starting page for the wrong section, typing in the id and password you registered, and click "Register". You should then see a page with all the information you registered. Click "delete" near the bottom of that page. Then go to the correct page and register in the usual way.