Modelling complex supply chain systems – a review

Tipi, Nicoleta (2012). Modelling complex supply chain systems – a review. In: Proceedings of papers of the 17th International Symposium on Logistics (ISL 2012) (Pawar, K. S. and Potter, A. T. eds.), New Horizons in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, pp. 424–431.



Purpose: Supply chains are complex systems, therefore managing them becomes a laborious activity. In helping managers to make better supply chain decisions for planning, designing, evaluating, monitoring and controlling a supply chain system, modelling techniques can be employed. Jain and Benyoucef (2008) indicated that modelling and analysing complex supply chain systems is critical for performance evaluation and for comparing competing supply chains. Modelling is considered a key aspect in understanding supply chain complexity as well as modelling plays a key role in evaluating supply chain behaviour that helps in supporting and guiding business process reengineering (Bhaskaran and Leung, 1997). This paper aims to evaluate current models and modelling procedures used in complex supply chain analysis. This work synthesises key supply chain modelling procedures used in current literature with the aim to identify gaps in this area of research.

Approach: This evaluation is carried out by a thorough literature review, which highlights not only preferred methods used for modelling supply chain systems, but also their level of complexity and their practical applicability.

Findings: Findings from this review are summarised where a dedicated discussion indicating key problem areas in modelling supply chain systems has been provided.

Value: This investigation allows for an evaluation of the limitations in modelling complex supply chain systems and stresses the need for more research and more examples into this area as new advances to the area of modelling is still in demand. Models derived from practical applications have benefits by demonstrating the applicability of the techniques used, their limitations and issues linked to their implementation. There are also benefits to theoretical models as these will provide further understanding of the modelling theory of complex supply chain systems. Therefore the value of this review is in identifying key problem areas from both theoretical and practical models and modelling procedures already used and stresses the need for further research into the modelling of supply chain systems.

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