JENNIFER K. RYAN
University College Dublin
JULIE L. SWANN
Georgia Institute of Technology
A supply chain is a network that includes all facilities, materials, and activities necessary to bring a product or service to the end-user, or consumer. Supply chain management (SCM) is the process of planning, implementing, and controlling the operations of a supply chain, with the goal of satisfying customer requirements as efficiently as possible. For large multinational corporations that manufacture complex products, such as automobiles, electronics, or aircraft, supply chains are highly complex systems, and the management of these systems is a large-scale problem involving many interrelated components, including facility location and network design, production planning and scheduling, inventory control, transportation and vehicle routing, information systems, and so on.
SCM is further complicated because most supply chains operate in highly variable and uncertain environments with facilities or stages in the supply chain that may be independently owned and/or operated. Because of these complexities, SCM relies heavily on methods developed by operations research, such as optimization and stochastic processes, as well as an understanding of engineering, economic, and business processes.
Over the past two decades, effective SCM has become a significant source of competitive advantage for private companies in both manufacturing industries (e.g., Dell Computer) and service industries (e.g., Wal-Mart). Recently, researchers and practitioners have begun to focus on the public impact of SCM, exploring the relationship between SCM and health care, housing policy, the environment, and national security.
The goal of this session is to provide an introduction to the problems and methods of SCM, focusing on the matching of supply and demand in complex, variable, and/or uncertain environments. To illustrate the widespread applicability of SCM, our speakers consider problems in a variety of settings, including manufacturing, the military, security, and public policy. These papers will provide examples of some of the work being done in SCM. However, potential applications of SCM methods could also include many other areas, such as water-resource management, certain nanoenvironments, network design of electrical systems, and so on.