FEIT Research Project Database

Resilient supply chains development through digital transformation

Project Leader: Guilherme Tortorella
Primary Contact: Guilherme Tortorella (guilherme.tortorella@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: 3D printing; cloud computing; data mining; Internet of Things (IoT)
Disciplines: Mechanical Engineering

Supply chain resilience addresses the supply chain’s ability to cope with the consequences of unavoidable risk events in order to return to its original operations or move to a new, more desirable state after being disturbed. Ponomarov and Holcomb (2009) defined supply chain resilience as “the adaptive capability of the supply chain to prepare for unexpected events, respond to disruptions, and recover from them by maintaining continuity of operations at the desired level of connectedness and control over structure and function”. To devise a resilient supply chain, researchers have recommended strategies such as collaboration among supply chain partners, development of redundant suppliers, capacity slack, establishment of pool demand, and balancing in-house production and outsourcing.

With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (known as Industry 4.0, or simply I4.0), the integration of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) into supply chain management may influence the development of resilient abilities. I4.0 steers the establishment of smart and dynamic production systems and the mass production of highly customised products. This involves implementing integrated digital elements which monitor and control the physical devices, sensors, ICTs and Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications. Due to the enhanced sensoring and communication in supply chains enabled by I4.0 technologies, those have also been called Smart Supply Chains. Although the benefits of integrating I4.0 technologies (eg: IoT, big data analytics, cloud computing, machine learning, etc) into supply chains have been indicated by several researchers, few studies have approached the impact of I4.0 on the development of supply chain resilience abilities, nor produced an effective resilience index aimed at providing decision support. A key part of our work will be futuristic thinking and decision tools (such as scenario analysis/ planning) to examine longer term resilience challenges of strategic supply chains.