A supply chain network consists of different partners which are connected by interaction. In turn, each partner acts on the different production levels production network, plans and hardware level. On and between these three levels, interactions in the processes plan, source, make, deliver and return are performed and in addition, the network partners interact with each other. Especially the interactions source, deliver and return determine the structure/configuration of a supply chain network. How well these processes can operate is measured by performance indicators. Robust supply chain managements are characterized by the stabilization of the performance indicators of the supply chain network in a volatile company environment. The performance of a supply chain network with regard to a specific process is measured by so-called Key Performance Indicators (KPI). They are used to evaluate the performance (specification) of the various levels and processes and the robustness (stability) at the same time. Thus, KPIs represent a central element of this framework. Disturbances, which can be caused by partners, processes, interactions or by external factors and uncertainties that may occur in all processes, have an impact on the KPIs. Through planning and control activities in the individual processes, the production levels production network, plant and hardware can respond to disturbances and thus stabilize their KPIs. Depending on the disturbance’s type and place of occurrence, different planning and control activities are needed. The place of occurrence determines the process (plan, source, make, deliver, return) and the type determines the time horizon (strategic, tactical, operational) of the planning and control activities to be taken. These will eventually determine flexibility corridors in specified dimensions (capacity, functionality, process and production planning) and levels (flexibility, reconfigurable ability and changeability). The flexibility corridors specify the possible variability of the structure (production network, plant or hardware) during the processes (plan, source, make, deliver, return) and their interaction. Planning and control activities can therefore use the flexibility corridors, which are defined by higher decision levels, to level disturbances and uncertainties. As mentioned before, any increase in robustness by defining and using flexible structures, processes and interactions through planning and control activities, is always associated with deficits in the performance in the trade-off. Therefore, optimal decisions (optimization of KPIs) must be made with due regard to the additional conditions (stability of KPIs) and in the context of the robust supply chain management and the transformation of hierarchical supply chains into cooperative and robust supply chain networks. Methods of Operations Research enable exactly this and since they abstract, formalize and solve decision problems for specific objectives, they are the basis of robust supply chain management. Computational design synthesis tools should support decisions in supply chain design by generation of different configurations of the supply chain network for the analysis of the performance and robustness of these configurations. Hence, computational synthesis tools should cover certain elements of the developed framework: SC Planning & Control activities should be supported by computational design synthesis tools for identification of certain supply chain structures on strategic or tactical levels, evaluating the performance and robustness of configurations by analysis of defined KPIs of the three dimensions cost, time and quality. To be able to calculate these KPIs, methods of OR have to implemented in computational design synthesis tools to enable specific analysis and comparison of the KPIs of interest. Therein the levels and dimensions of flexibility are concerned, as they have to be included in the models. In general computational synthesis tools enable the identification of design alternatives and simultaneously support their evaluation, thus the tools to be developed play a key role within this framework.
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