Mizzou Engineers edit book on supply chain analytics

November 29, 2021


Analytics will play a significant role in decisions around supply chain management as manufacturers take a closer look at operations in a post-COVID world. To help researchers, industries and students gain a better understanding of where the field is headed, two Mizzou Engineers recently edited a book addressing supply chain problems, analytical methods and case studies over recent years.

“This book focuses on providing an overview of current trends in supply chain as well as publishing state-of-the-art original research work dealing with advanced analytical models ,” said Sharan Srinivas, an assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering (IMSE). “It includes a wide collection of analytical methodologies for optimizing key supply chain decisions, and bridges the theory-practice gap in supply chain management.”

Srinivas, IMSE Assistant Professor Suchi Rajendran and Hans Ziegler from the University of Passau, Germany, co-edited the book, “Supply Chain Management in Manufacturing and Service Systems.” It’s part of the International Series in Operations Research & Management Science book series. Contributors include researchers from academia and industry, including Tesla and SAP, from the U.S., Germany and India.

Editors primarily focused on two areas of analytics, predictive and prescriptive. Predictive analytics uses machine learning models to make predictions and help inform decisions based on historical data. Prescriptive analytics goes beyond that and suggests a best course of action based on those predictions.

“This book intends to empower the supply chains in the current era of digitization and Industry 4.0 by integrating machine learning and operations research methods for faster, smarter and informed decision-making,” Srinivas said.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence can improve supply chain management by helping manufacturers weigh factors such as costs and risks.

Historically, the primary consideration has been keeping operating costs low while still meeting consumer demands. However, in recent years, major disasters, a global pandemic and terrorist events have highlighted the need for resiliency as well.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, organizations have realized the importance of managing risks in supply chains,” Rajendran said. “Focusing solely on reducing the costs in a supply chain reduces its capability to handle disruptions. For instance, sourcing raw materials from a single international supplier may be the cheapest option, but even a small, localized disruption with that supplier will lead to significant delays and revenue loss. In recent times, the semiconductor shortage in China, as a result of COVID, has led to billions of dollars in lost revenue for tech companies like Apple. Therefore, it is very important to achieve a tradeoff between cost, delivery speed and resiliency when managing a supply chain.”

The book addresses those challenges and offers solutions such as intelligent digital supply chains, proactive strategies in online routing, evaluating drone-integrated delivery strategies and prescriptive analytics for real-time scheduling. Key concepts are illustrated with real-life case studies, making the book accessible to technical professionals as well as researchers and students.