Gamification in Learning: Partnering with Z Energy


Z Energy is one of New Zealand’s largest fuel distributors, and a long-term partner of Synapsys. Z Energy first engaged Synapsys’ services when Z took over the company from Shell, and were responsible for developing a learning and training platform for pilot Z Energy sites around the country.

Having now established themselves fully – so much so that they are responsible for supplying half of the market with fuel – in 2022 Z Energy partnered up with Synapsys again. This time around, the focus was on understanding supply chain models that changed significantly with moving to an import-only supply chain.

The goal was this – how to get people at all levels within the supply chain to understand how decisions are made and why. The solution? The Z Supply Chain Game.

Z Energy say they knew from the beginning it was important to be able to physically move things around in order to enhance the learning experience – which led them to consider a game-based solution. It was key to do it in a way where people at all levels of the business could experience decision-making for real and in a fun and engaging way. The idea was for players to work in collaboration across the entirety of the supply chain, gaining empathy for those in other roles and the level of risk-taking associated with each one.

At a basic level, the aim of the game is to get fuel from the overseas supplier to the customer at the very other end of the process. Playing as part of a team, the game oversees the entire process, from deciding what ships to use, where to store fuel, and what ports to unload at. Each action is taken by a different person, where the goal is to optimize who does what role, in order to do the job most efficiently. There are also event cards where some sort of crisis might occur, or customer demand increases, and the team are required to deal with these changes accordingly.

By using gamification and simulating the Z Energy supply chain, Z Energy was able to engage learners in a fun and interactive way, while simultaneously delivering key learning outcomes. The game teaches players how to evaluate different factors involved in decision-making like cost, risk, relationships, and safety, and how the decisions made affect each group differently. It then uses these concepts and applies them to the Z Energy supply chain model which can be divided into four key parts: Plan and source, ship, store and deliver.

The aim of the game? To foster “collaborative and continuous improvement, while having a whole lot of fun.”

In reflecting on their experience of working with Synapsys, Julie Fitzgerald, from Z Energy, says that despite the mixed brief provided to Synapsys, it was a positive experience overall – “Synapsys did a great job of sorting through and simplifying the information, and delivered well with tight timeframes. Communication and project management was excellent, and there were regular check-ins against deliverables. It was really cool to see the development from an early concept to the final game within a virtual environment.”


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