The boomerang returns? Accounting for the impact of uncertainties on the dynamics of remanufacturing systems

Goltsos, Thanos E.; Ponte, Borja; Wang, Shixuan; Liu, Ying; Naim, Mohamed M. and Syntetos, Aris A. (2019). The boomerang returns? Accounting for the impact of uncertainties on the dynamics of remanufacturing systems. International Journal of Production Research, 57(23) pp. 7361–7394.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00207543.2018.1510191

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed companies abandon traditional open-loop supply chain structures in favour of closed-loop variants, in a bid to mitigate environmental impacts and exploit economic opportunities. Central to the closed-loop paradigm is remanufacturing: the restoration of used products to useful life. While this operational model has huge potential to extend product life-cycles, the collection and recovery processes diminish the effectiveness of existing control mechanisms for open-loop systems. We systematically review the literature in the field of closed-loop supply chain dynamics, which explores the time-varying interactions of material and information flows in the different elements of remanufacturing supply chains. We supplement this with further reviews of what we call the three ‘pillars’ of such systems, i.e. forecasting, collection, and inventory and production control. This provides us with an interdisciplinary lens to investigate how a ‘boomerang’ effect (i.e. sale, consumption, and return processes) impacts on the behaviour of the closed-loop system and to understand how it can be controlled. To facilitate this, we contrast closed-loop supply chain dynamics research to the well-developed research in each pillar; explore how different disciplines have accommodated the supply, process, demand, and control uncertainties; and provide insights for future research on the dynamics of remanufacturing systems.

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