University of Oulu

An agile supply chain for a project-oriented steel product network

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Author: Iskanius, Päivi1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2006
Publish Date: 2006-08-08
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Raahensali (Auditorium L10), Linnanmaa, on August 18th, 2006, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Professor Petri Helo
Professor Hannu Vanharanta


Agility — namely, the ability of a supply chain to rapidly respond to changes in market and customer demands — is regarded as the bearer of competitive advantage in today’s business world. The need for agility has traditionally been associated with supply chains in high technology industry products. However, traditional industries also face similar challenges in terms of speed, flexibility, increased product diversity and customization. This study contributes to the discussion on agility in supply chain management (SCM) and provides a novel focus on the development of an agile supply chain in a traditional industry.

The object of this study is the development of an agile supply chain in a steel product network in the Raahe area in Northern Finland. The case network is undergoing a shift towards project-oriented business, where quick responses are the priority and agility is recognised as the facilitating factor. Using a constructive approach, an agile supply chain for a steel product network, SteelNet system, is developed. SteelNet system functions through the Internet and agent software technology. In identifying the new challenges raised by advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) in the development of an agile supply chain, the study presents some valuable ICT options for SCM. Following a review of the current understanding of agility in SCM literature, the study identifies the key elements of agile supply chains and proposes a four-dimensional agile supply chain framework by which to assess levels of agility. Using the framework, the study describes how the key elements appear in the case network. The study assesses the change process, and the necessary improvement steps, towards agility.

It is concluded that agile supply chains have a major role also in traditional industry, and comprehensive implementation of ICT throughout the chain is of utmost importance in the development of an agile supply chain. Further insights to the discussion on agility are provided, and these and the conclusions extend a drawbridge to other companies and business networks in traditional industry to consider the clear advantages to developing their own agile supply chains.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. C, Technica
ISSN-E: 1796-2226
ISBN: 951-42-8148-9
ISBN Print: 951-42-8147-0
Issue: 250
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2006. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.