The effect of returns volume uncertainty on the dynamic performance of closed-loop supply chains

Ponte, Borja; Naim, Mohamed M. and Syntetos, Aris A. (2020). The effect of returns volume uncertainty on the dynamic performance of closed-loop supply chains. Journal of Remanufacturing, 10(1) pp. 1–14.



We investigate the dynamics of a hybrid manufacturing/remanufacturing system (HMRS) by exploring the impact of the average return yield and uncertainty in returns volume. Through modelling and simulation techniques, we measure the long-term variability of end-product inventories and orders issued, given its negative impact on the operational performance of supply chains, as well as the average net stock and the average backlog, in order to consider the key trade-off between service level and holding requirements. In this regard, prior studies have observed that returns may positively impact the dynamic behaviour of the HMRS. We demonstrate that this occurs as long as the intrinsic uncertainty in the volume of returns is low —increasing the return yield results in decreased fluctuations in production, which enhances the operation of the closed-loop system. Interestingly, we observe a U-shaped relationship between the inventory performance and the return yield. However, the dynamics of the supply chain may significantly suffer from returns volume uncertainty through the damaging Bullwhip phenomenon. Under this scenario, the relationship between the average return yield and the intrinsic returns volume variability determines the operational performance of closed-loop supply chains in comparison with traditional (open-loop) systems. In this sense, this research adds to the still very limited literature on the dynamic behaviour of closed-loop supply chains, whose importance is enormously growing in the current production model evolving from a linear to a circular architecture.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions