Hybrid Control of Supply Chains: a Structured Exploration from a Systems Perspective

Paul W. P. J. Grefen, Remco M. Dijkman


Supply chains are becoming increasingly complex these days, both in the structure of the chains and in the need for fine-grained, real-time control. This development occurs in many industries, such as manufacturing, logistics, and the service industry. The increasing structural complexity is caused by larger numbers of participating companies in supply chains because of increasing complexity of products and services. Increasing requirements to control are caused by developments like mass-customization, pressure on delivery times, and smaller margins for waste. Maintaining well-structured strategic, tactic, and operational control over these complex supply chains is not an easy task – certainly as they are pressured by end-to-end synchronization requirements and just-in-time demands. Things become even more complex when chains need to be flexible to react to changing requirements to the products or services they deliver. To enable design of well-structured control, clear models of control topologies are required. In this paper, we address this need by exploring supply chain control topologies in an organized fashion. The exploration is based on integrating a supply chain model and a control model in two alternative ways to obtain two extreme models for supply chain control. These two models are next combined to obtain a hybrid chain control model in which control parameters can be adapted to accommodate different circumstances, hence facilitating agility in supply chains and networks. We apply the developed model to a number of case studies to show its usability. The contribution of this paper is the structured analysis of the design space for chain-level control models - not the description of individual new models.


supply chain; control model; information system

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