16 March 2006
Edited by Joseph Geunes and Panos M Pardalos
Springer-Verlag New York, £57
The editors have aimed to capture a segment of recent research activity in supply chain management. Their focus is on applying optimisation techniques to supply chain management problems. They signal a note of pessimism in the preface when they declare "We are quite pleased with the results".
The research is based on a wide range of studies, including retailing, a logistics provider, service facility location and the design of production - distribution networks. The content consists of an orgy of mathematical formulae, esoteric explanations of academically interesting theorems and very occasional down-to-earth descriptions that have appeal for purchasers and supply chain professionals. In this latter regard, an opportunity has been lost to capture, in a understandable manner, the real-life applications of the research.
There are nuggets of information in the book but the mining effort to find them is daunting. A good example is the multi-channel supply chain design in B2C electronic commerce. Here is a real problem. The research is based on consumers wanting to buy exactly one unit of a product. Oh, if only life were that simple! The researchers' conclusion to 21 pages of narrative is that they have highlighted the main issues, but in the process have omitted important details. There is no explanation of what these details are.
My own work with a major European retailer who needed a reliable global transportation system generated my personal interest in chapter 11, regarding dispatching automated guided vehicles in a contained terminal. This offers realistic, helpful insights into the issue, and it will motivate purchasers and supply chain personnel to undertake penetrating reviews of this aspect of their supply chain.
The editors do not state who the intended audience is. It will be restricted, in all probability, to academics, specialist supply chain consultants and a few supply chain specialists. The relevance of the book lies in the pulling together of important research. A summary in each chapter highlighting the relevance of findings to problems encountered in supply chains would have been a major improvement to the book.
Brian Farrington Ltd