Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lean Bicycle Factory Game

A Swedish consortium developed a cool free lean game called Lean Bicycle Factory, free to download from ludosity.com.
Upon starting the game, you are confronted with a typical manufacturing scenario, where bicycles are manufactured through a variety of processes. The factory workers move by themselves, and you follow the bicycle components through stamping, assembly, paint, and quality control. As you watch, you can easily spot opportunities for improvement, including plenty of wasted motion, large inventories and missed orders to the customer.

Through 5 rounds, you or your team are invited to make changes and fine-tune the processes. Between each round you can perform two changes. There are many options to choose from including reducing batch quantities, moving processes closer together, selling forklifts, adding marketing gurus and analysts, quality control and maintenance. Everything comes with a price tag, so you have to determine if the change is worth it.
Eventually you are striving to reach the ultimate layout, similar to what I threw together below:

I spent a few hours playing around with this one and it's a pretty good. The screen shot above shows that I ended up with negative money, but that's mainly because in the final round you are allowed to make unlimited changes. I wanted to optimize everything and see the effect. It's expensive to move those larger machines.
It's interesting because you are limited to 2 changes and there are many more than 2 available. Although its a computer game and it's fun to play solo, it would work perfectly for training groups, since you can make changes and view the results of the changes. Perfect talking about each aspect of lean, then implementing it in the next round.

The simulation does run frustratingly slow, each round taking about 10 minutes. I could evaluate the impact of the changes within about 1 to 2 minutes, but had to wait for the round to end before I could go on to the next stage. And what's even more annoying is the existence of fast forward buttons on the bottom of the screen that don't seem to do anything! If you plan to use this for training, you would need to fill this time with training of some kind.

Apart from the speed problem,  I loved this lean simulation. I wish they would develop it a little further. There are a few quirks that I would like to see improved, including the chance to set inventory levels at each station at the start of each round. Let me know if you've tried it out and what you think!


  1. Thanks for the article. All parameters (# round, # of changes, batch size, truck speed and so on) can be modified through the "config" directory of the lean game. Then open the appropriate *.txt files and changes what you want. e.g.: "mapconfig.txt", this changes:
    startMoney: 1000000;
    playTurns: 100;
    changesPerTurn: 100;

    Allow you to play 100 turn and have 100 changes by turn (with a starting money of 1 billion)

  2. Hi,

    do you know if the game is still available? The link seems to be broken.

  3. Hi there,
    I've received an email from the ludosity guys and they have informed me that it has been removed for now, as they are working on an update with more features.
    I'll update the post when I hear more.

  4. Does anyone still have the exe file. I can't wait for the update :-)

  5. Hi there,
    I took a look on my hard drive, but apparently I've deleted it. Sorry, we'll just have to wait.