Supply Chain Configuration

Read this article, which examines the challenges western nation manufacturers currently face. Specifically, it covers firms in industrial products, toys, fast fashion, and designer furniture.

Methodology: A framework for network configuration

As pointed out above, we need to view supply chain issues in a larger context, for example to address the inter-linkages between manufacturing and procurement in a global context, and to include the interdependencies between manufacturing, supply chain, sales/marketing, product development, and purchasing. Furthermore, configuration should be seen as an evolutionary process and not as a once-and-for-all design effort. This has led us to develop a framework for configuration of supply chains and global operations systems, cf. figure 2.

Fig. 2. An analysis framework for network configuration

This model will in the following serve to structure the discussion of our case studies. Fourcase studies, representing four different industrial situations (context influences), will be presented. The strategic choice and preferences will be dealt with by discussing the strategic roles of supply chains introduced above, and the emerging operations network will describe the operations structure (network configuration). Organizational issues to be discussed will touch on operations infra-structure, and the case studies will include the development over time of the elements of the framework (Network Capabilities).

As already mentioned, the five generic manufacturing roles that we have transferred to supply chains were identified as part of a series of workshops with industrial managers and researchers in an effort to support an industry-driven development process. In other research projects, we have undertaken a number of case studies, some of which are action research-oriented covering different industries and spanning a spectrum of different situations. As illustrated in figure 3, we have selected two dimensions to capture the influencers from the industrial context: the rate of change and the need for coordination of the operations network. We have selected four case studies, one in each of the four cells.

Fig. 3. Four different industrial contexts