Effective business process collaboration between companies operating in a supply chain can bring about important benefits, but several barriers need to be overcome. One important obstacle evidenced by professionals is related to the information and communication technologies used to support such collaboration. Although a supplier and a manufacturer may be willing to establish a closer relationship, a lack of easy-to-operate enterprise applications can thwart their collaborative ambitions. Specific technologies are required for each type of collaborative business process as generic applications do not lend themselves to addressing complex situations. Complexity lies in the need to consider common standards for information and decision exchanges, and for designing and implementing the right information and decision flow among supply chain members to support collaborative processes. This paper focuses on collaboration of demand, production and replenishment planning along a supply chain, and proposes a multi-tier, negotiation-based mechanism supported by a multi-agent system. The research hypothesis is that improvements in the service and profit level of supply chain members, and in the entire supply chain, can be achieved by implementing this form of collaboration. The proposed collaborative planning model was used to address a real automotive supply chain configuration for the purpose of testing its appropriateness and validating its performance.
- Collaborative planning
- Multi-agent systems
- Multi-level supply chain decision making