Multi-Stage Replenishment System: a Case Study
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In a multi-stage production-inventory system it is generally accepted that the operation attributes vary between the stages. This can result in the applied inventory control policy being less suitable for some stages in the system. To address this issue, researchers have combined traditional inventory control policies to study the effect of hybrid solutions in these scenarios. This research takes a holistic view of the production-inventory system challenge. Addressing the reality that the stages may have different compositions of operation attributes, this research suggests an approach to define common inventory control policies according to these attributes. Moreover, it studies the advantage of combining two or more inventory control policies to make up a multi-stage replenishment system.This issue has been addressed with a systems engineering approach, studying the conceptual aspects of inventory control policies, as well as the practical aspect of information retrieval. Taking an enterprise view, a literature study on ERP capabilities, advantages, and limitations is presented. In addition, a literature study on operational attributes and inventory control policies has been conducted. Through a case study, an end-to-end mapping of key operations has been performed to obtain a holistic understanding, followed by an analysis of the AS-IS situation of the company. Combined with theory from the literature study, the case study resulted in suggestions for a multi-stage replenishment system. The evaluation of this specific case suggests that tailoring a replenishment system according to the stage-dependent composition of operating attributes produces stage-dependent advantages. However, operating and maintaining a multi-stage replenishment system is information demanding and requires an enterprise wide information tracking system. This research has not included demand uncertainty, so further research has to be conducted to investigate the advantages of introducing a multi-stage replenishment system in a multi-stage production-inventory system. Nevertheless, the contribution of this research is that it addresses several aspects that support decision-making when developing a multi-stage replenishment system. In addition, this research has utilized several systems engineering methods to collect and communicate information for the case study. Evaluation indicates that using and combining these visualization methods produces several advantages, such as more precise feedback from stakeholders, and a shared and systemic understanding of the issues and challenges within the company. This helps researchers and practitioners to obtain a broad view of the situation before studying the details and making suggestions for change.