The Manufacturing Game

Creating Reliable Performance

High maintenance costs and less than optimum equipment and process reliability are major concerns in today’s industrial facilities.

Implementation of programs to improve reliability are often short-lived and expensive. Employees don’t understand the programs, don’t see how they fit together, and don’t see how they relate to the work they do. The result is partially implemented programs that improve equipment reliability only at the expense of much higher maintenance costs.

With The Manufacturing Game®, we have proven that higher reliability can be attained while lowering both maintenance costs and operational losses by addressing the need for organizational change. Making a significant change in reliability and cost requires engaging everyone in the organization to work differently.

What is The Manufacturing Game

The Manufacturing Game®

Our high touch,” “high tech” learning laboratory is actually a 4′ x 6′ board game with 3 roles to play: Operations, Maintenance, and Business Services.

Object: Satisfy customer demand by producing and shipping the finished product without hurting people or the environment, returning a profit to the company.



  • Maintains the plant by keeping the equipment running
  • Decides on Contractor usage
  • Allocates resources between breakdown jobs, planned work and improvement projects


  • Produces the product
  • Decides on finished product inventory levels
  • Allocates resources between production, rounds, preparing for maintenance and improvement projects

Business Services

  • Sells the product and buys parts for the repair of equipment. manages spare parts
  • Decides on spare parts inventory levels
  • Allocates resources between storeroom management, purchase order processing and improvement projects

Participants gain new perspectives by assuming a different role from the one they perform daily. Maintenance people become operations personnel; business services staff become mechanics; and operators become business services staff. Participants see how their decisions and actions impact each other and the overall performance of the plant.

In the course of two days, players experience in simulated form what would take over a year of actual plant operations.

Switching roles and compressing time brings the big picture clearly into focus. Participants identify the benefits of moving from a reactive to a proactive approach not just for maintenance but for their organization’s operation as a whole. They recognize their own role in the change as well as the need for cross-organizational cooperation to achieve it.

Day 2: Taking Action
The second day of the workshop applies the lessons of the Game to the “real world”. Small, cross-functional teams (what we call Action Teams) are formed to give participants a way to enthusiastically apply the newly gained knowledge.

Each Action Team brainstorms potential defect elimination projects in their area of the site, selecting one that they will complete over the following 90 days. They develop a specific set of action items for accomplishing this and leave the workshop with a plan and the enthusiasm to get it done.

This real world activity puts the knowledge gained from the simulation experience immediately into practice, kicking off the defect elimination habit essential to transforming the organization. Successful Action Teams also provide the quick payback many companies require to move to world class operations.

Proven Results

The workshops have been used as a catalyst to launch successful improvement campaigns in a variety of industries. The Manufacturing Game® Workshops launch the action necessary to help make the strategies learned a reality, providing significant operating improvements within 90 days and substantial financial impact within a year. While the hard dollar savings of improvement activities are tremendously helpful in accelerating change, the impact of The Manufacturing Game® on the culture of the organization is important as well. The Manufacturing Game® will help build a shared vision and shared language for improvement efforts. The Manufacturing Game® workshops help to build the culture required for significant and lasting change.

A Shared Vision

Creating the culture to become world class in reliability requires more than a few people with a new perspective and certainly more than just a workshop for the leadership team.

World class reliability requires hundreds of people doing thousands of little things correctly everyday. And, to create such a manufacturing environment requires a concerted effort and shared vision by all participants.

The Manufacturing Game® is especially effective in assisting companies reach world class reliability when it is:

  • used with a majority of a site’s front line people
  • combined with solid leadership support and communications
  • focused on the value of improved reliability rather than just maintenance cost

Read about: Train the Trainer | Supervisor Workshop