The Volvo Group has developed a computer game to teach the principles of lean production, a concept designed to increase the efficiency of working processes. In this game, the players can see how different changes impact efficiency and profitability. The results indicate that what is known as serious gaming is an excellent complement to training at work.
Offering information and training at a low cost, with minimal carbon emissions by reducing the need to travel, is a challenge the Volvo Group shares with other global companies.
"This is an excellent example of the way companies can go greener using IT and how we are extending the concept that is normally defined as 'Green IT'," says Tommy Hansson, prototype manager at Volvo IT. The game is a prototype that is based on a traditional game which has been used by the Volvo Group for many years to teach the concepts of lean production in manufacturing and assembly. Lean principles can also be applied to other areas in which there is a real need for future training, such as leadership, administration, product development and sales.
"The Volvo Group has more than 90,000 employees and nearly all of them need to understand what we mean by 'lean.' One of the advantages of a computer-based game is that it's possible to train significantly more people at low cost," says Dawn Yoshimura, training manager at the Volvo Production System Academy at Volvo Technology.
The project invited a number of employees from various Volvo Group companies around the world to evaluate the game. Players could switch from scheduled production to customer order-steered production, test different layouts, invest in new equipment and immediately see how this affected efficiency and profitability. One of the individuals who excelled at the game was Tracy Liu, Planning Supervisor at Volvo Construction Equipment in Linyi in China.
"I was really captivated by the game and was quickly able to see how various actions affected efficiency. The game taught me to think in new ways and it was a real challenge trying different ways to improve production," Liu says. "When everything worked, I managed to deliver to customers on time and with the right quality." Digitally based games provide an opportunity to log what the players do and the effect this has, which then provides feedback for the instructors.
"If you store the information from each round of the game, you can then look at what the players managed to change most effectively, which can provide ideas that hadn't been thought of earlier," says Hansson at Volvo IT. The results of the project were followed up in a master's thesis on the subject of serious games training at the University of Skövde. The analysis indicated that the game had a positive impact on participants and revealed that they acted in the way the game taught them.
The project was a joint venture between the public and private sectors.
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