Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Supply Chain Network Design for Critical Needs with Outsourcing Paper is Now Published Online

Our paper, "Supply Chain Network Design for Critical Needs with Outsourcing," has now been made available online by the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, in the journal Papers in Regional Science.

With the number of disasters growing over the past decade as well as the number of people affected by disasters, the design of supply chain networks for critical needs products, such as water, food, and medicines, is of paramount importance. Such problems are uniquely challenging since the needs of the affected population should be met as closely as possible with the undersupply of food, water, and medicines, leading to loss of life. At the same time, the oversupply of products may also carry costs, due to unnecessary waste and even, possibly, environmental damage.

In fact, the United Nations is reporting in today's New York Times that the horrific floods in Pakistan are resulting in severe shortages of such critical needs supplies as food and water.

In our paper, we developed a mathematical model that allows for the optimal design of such supply chain networks at minimal total cost and with the satisfaction of the product demands at the demand points, as closely as possible.

Research on which this paper was based, which was conducted also by Professor Patrick Qiang and my doctoral student, Min Yu, was inspired by the Humanitarian Logistics: Networks for Africa Conference that I organized at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center on Lake Como. The Rockefeller Foundation and this workshop are acknowledged in the paper. We also thank Professor Manfred Fischer of the Vienna University of Business and Economics for his support. Professor Fischer was my host in Vienna in March 2009 when I delivered the lecture, "Synergies and Vulnerabilities of Supply Chain Networks in a Global Economy."