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V-LAB (IP2001)






Projects - A System to Support Extended Supply Chain Design and Integration

The support of the Informatics Research Initiative of Enterprise Ireland is gratefully acknowledged.

Principal Investigator
Prof. Gerard Lyons
Dr. Jim Duggan

Senior Researchers
Dr. Michael Madden
Dr. Owen Molloy
Sinead Huges
Hugh Melvin

Postgrad Researchers
Tom Lyons
Catherine O'Dowd
Yan Xing
Mourad Bouguerra
Páraic Quinn
Noel McKenna
Bryan Conneely
Alan Ryan

Research Context

The Internet is redefining the way businesses design, develop, manufacture, distribute and sell products and services. Tightly coupled, vertically integrated supply chains are giving way to more fluid ‘value constellations’ connecting suppliers, intermediaries and customers through real-time information conduits. While these effects are most visible in the information-intensive industries, such as finance, consulting and media, the landscape of material or product-based industries is also being transformed.

At the extreme of supply chain design is a vision of the virtual enterprise as a ‘temporary network of companies that come together quickly to exploit fast changing opportunities… companies share costs, skills and access to global markets, with each partner contributing what it’s best at’ (Byrne, J., 'The Virtual Corporation', Business Week, February 1993). An intelligent electronic broker might well create a virtual enterprise for the purpose of executing a single transaction.

Research Objectives

The project will investigate ways of supporting new business models. It focuses on three inter-related aspects:

Supply Chain Modelling: Modelling the interactions and dependencies in the supply chain provides the basis for designing the extended enterprise's information and material logistics. This provides the analytical tools to create different supply chain architectures and experiment with them, with a view to co-ordinating material and information flow across the supply chain, and providing for end-to-end virtual logistics management.

Enabling and Integration Technologies: Emerging developments in the areas of mobile computing and customer relationship management are likely to change the information systems landscape, and provide an opportunity for realising truly flexible and adaptive systems.

Application Domains: Supply chain concepts, originally developed for manufacturing, also apply in information-intensive industries (such as financial services) and in professional services (including software development). Each of these three domains - software, financial services, and logistics - poses unique challenges. Exploring supply chains from these distinct perspectives will enable us to explore key differences and commonalities and to apply different technological solutions.

Commercialisation Potential
The design and integration of extended supply chains is a multi-layer challenge that involves business processes,organisation structures, measurement systems, legal contracts and IP agreements, security, ERP platforms, and underlying network architectures.

Conventional ERP architectures and legacy IT platforms are likely to be the greatest impediment to realising flexible, adaptive demand-supply value chains. The ability to create such new business models quickly may well be the only enduring competitive advantage for businesses in the future. This implies that the design and implementation of appropriate solutions will provide significant business opportunities.


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