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Understanding supply chain dynamics: a chaos perspective. (English) Zbl 1141.90444
Summary: Variability in orders or inventories in supply chain systems is generally thought to be caused by exogenous random factors such as uncertainties in customer demand or lead time. Studies have shown, however, that orders or inventories may exhibit significant variability even if customer demand and lead time are deterministic. In this paper, we investigate how this class of variability, chaos, may occur in a multi-level supply chain and offer insights into how to manage relevant supply chain factors to eliminate or reduce system chaos. The supply chain is characterized by the classical beer distribution model with some modifications. We observe the supply chain dynamics under the influence of various factors: demand pattern, ordering policy, demand-information sharing, and lead time. Through proper decision-region formation, the effect of various factors on system chaos is investigated using a factorial design. The degree of system chaos is quantified using the Lyapunov exponent across all levels of the supply chain. This study shows that, to reduce the degree of chaos in the supply chain system, the adjustment parameters for both inventory and supply line discrepancies should be more comparable in magnitude. Counter-intuitively, in certain decision regions, sharing demand information can do more harm than good. Similar to the bullwhip effect observed previously in demand, we discover the phenomenon of “chaos-amplification” in inventory across supply chain levels.

90B50Management decision making, including multiple objectives
37D45Strange attractors, chaotic dynamics
37N99Applications of dynamical systems
Full Text: DOI
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