Teaching lean manufacturing with simulations and games: A survey and future directions

Fazleena Badurdeen, Philip Marksberry, Arlie Hall, Bob Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Problem-based learning focuses on small groups using authentic problems as a means to help participants obtain knowledge and problem-solving skills. This approach makes problem-based learning ideal for teaching lean manufacturing, which is driven by a culture of problem solving that values learning as one key output of manufacturing production. Thus, simulations that organize participants in teams for realistic manufacturing production problem solving are widespread as a way to use problem-based learning to teach lean manufacturing. But a critical assessment of existing simulations for lean manufacturing instruction has been lacking. Accordingly, a literature survey is conducted and existing simulations are classified according to their emphasis on lean tools or the overall lean system; the degree of their focus on soft skills, if any; and their area of application, whether academic or industry. Four gaps are found in existing simulation designs: lack of stress on soft skills, a mistaken focus on "linear lean," misunderstanding of the key role of the facilitator, and lack of realism. Future directions for study and improvement in lean simulation design are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-486
Number of pages22
JournalSimulation and Gaming
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010


  • Assessment
  • Authentic problems
  • Facilitator
  • Games
  • Problem soft skills
  • Problem-based learning
  • Realism
  • Review
  • Simulations
  • Skills
  • Soft lean manufacturing
  • Solving skills
  • Toyota Production System

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications


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