MOLB game gives an insight into sustainable production processes

Impact case of the month: 'Engaging students in sustainable production processes with the MOLB game.’

May 16 2023

In recent decades, the optimization of production processes was mainly focused on making profit. Nowadays there is also an increasing focus on environmental and societal impact. This transition calls for new leadership. To best prepare students for their future leadership roles, Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management and Analytics, Taher Ahmadi, developed a Multi-Objective Line Balancing (MOLB) game. This game has led to positive reactions both nationally and internationally.

The foundation for the MOLB game was laid in 2010, when Ahmadi was still working in the car industry in Iran. “I was responsible for balancing a car assembly line. This assembly line consisted of a thousand tasks. To get this job done, I developed balancing software based on the genetic algorithm; an algorithm used to find solutions to optimization and search problems.” 

Interactive learning

Years later, Ahmadi started working as Assistant Professor at Nyenrode Business Universiteit, where he taught bachelor students during the 'Learning through Business Games' module. “As part of the module, students played both physical and web-based games to learn more about operations management. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic breakout, we were forced to switch to a fully online teaching environment. That is when I converted the software I had already developed in Iran into a spreadsheet-based game: the MOLB game. Students get to work on various topics in an attractive and interactive environment, including topics such as balancing an assembly line, sustainable production and complex decision-making. At the same time, they acquire a number of important skills including problem solving, systems thinking and collaboration.”

International interest

The MOLB game has led to the publication of an educational paper in the INFORMS Transactions on Education journal. In the meantime, the game has also been successfully included in the MSc Operations and Supply Chain Management module within the Center for Marketing and Supply Chain Management of Nyenrode Business Universiteit. And not without success: a survey shows that the MOLB game is highly valued and even better than other similar games that are frequently played at business schools worldwide. For example, students indicate that it is a valuable addition to the other teaching materials and that it has enriched their knowledge of assembly line balancing. The game has also not gone unnoticed in other countries. The MOLB game has been requested by lecturers from business schools in the United States, Australia, Turkey and Northern Ireland.

May 10 2023

An impact case includes a research portfolio around a central theme, focusing on the reach and impact of that research. The impact cases are easy to read for a broad audience, they demonstrate how Nyenrode is strengthening its connection to practice and how faculty members are finding practical solutions to relevant and current challenges in practice.

The impact cases are divided into the categories Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Stewardship, and Educational Innovation.

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