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?

Discussion of Results, Implications and Limitations

Summarizing the obtained results from the testing of the ASC complexity indicators, the following statements can be provided:

(i) All described indicators sufficiently reflect organizational aspects of ASCs.
(ii) Three of the complexity indicators, namely, Ivd, MFC, and PCI, can be effectively used to measure ASC complexity in order to identify how ASC structural variants are influencing organizational costs, as well as energy costs.
(iii) The PCI complexity measure reflects all of the three cost items and covers the two crucial dimensions of sustainability, economic and environmental.

In addition, it has to be emphasized that the impact of ASC complexity on social development can only be anticipated based on the theoretical assumption that higher organizational complexity, induced by a company's favorable development, could positively influence social sustainability. In such a case, it would be expected that organizational complexity is growing not only along various dimensions, such as production volume, but also with the increasing number of employees. However, the related literature is more or less ambivalent about whether organizational complexity has positive or negative effects on firm performance. Moreover, if we consider that organizational complexity is frequently defined as "the amount of differentiation that exists within different elements constituting the organization", then it is rather clear that any of the structural complexity indicators can identify organizational complexity changes within a company. Thus, it cannot be excluded that changes of the internal structural complexity will not impact the organizational complexity. Based on the above formulations, it can be concluded that, when comparing two or several ASC alternative solutions, the one with the lowest structural complexity can be considered as the most sustainable and cost-effective approach. Therefore, structural complexity measures can be primarily used as potential indicators for the indirect assessment of material costs and related energy consumption. This drawback of the presented approach can be seen as the main limitation of the analyzed indicators to reflect ASC complexity along with the sustainability issues.

This evaluation method can be effectively used, especially in terms of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), since it has been found that SMEs are particularly sensitive to the internal complexity environment, as well as to the external complexity environment. For this reason, SMEs need to pay attention also to the complexity management approach in order to entirely manage their sustainability in a turbulent business environment.