Complexity Assessment of Assembly Supply Chains from the Sustainability Viewpoint

The main point of the paper is to address supply chain networks in terms of sustainability. How can customization of physical networks help to better manage demand?

Methodology Framework

When exploring the relation between ASC structural complexity and sustainability, one has to consider the fact that lower ASC structural complexity has a positive implication on material costs, energy costs, and organizational costs. Moreover, it is rather clear that the first of the two items are directly related not only to economic burden, but also to environmental quality. Therefore, the two fundamental elements of sustainability practice, i.e., economic prosperity and environmental protection, is further the main subject of our interest in the context of ASCs. Because it is rather complicated to sufficiently estimate the relation between the structural complexity of ASCs and social implications, the social aspect of sustainability in our approach is omitted. Nevertheless, it has to be mentioned that increasing organizational complexity can cause positive implications on social advancement. When comparing the three cost items (material, energy, and organizational), the first two of them can be empirically considered to be more important from a sustainability viewpoint than organizational costs. However, organizational costs have to be perceived as relevant in a given nexus of sustainability practice, since any organizational activity uses materials and energy.

With the aim to fulfill the goal of this research defined in the introduction section with the encompassing above outlined relation between ASC complexity and sustainability, the following methodological framework is proposed and used (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The sequence of the methodological procedures for the selection of the most suitable complexity indicator.