Presents, the competition among organisations becomes fierce, cutthroat and heated. Firms spend a mammoth sum of money on invention, fabrication, bringing, selling and client service in order to get the better of their rivals to win the competition. Among these attempts, supply concatenation direction is a polar factor which can make up one’s mind the public presentation of a house. Because an effectual supply concatenation direction ensures that the clients can have the right merchandises at the right clip in the right topographic point with the lowest cost. However, more and more houses realize that it is really difficult for them to pull off the activities in supply concatenation direction efficaciously by themselves. Therefore, they turn to seek spouses and get down to join forces with them to gain the net incomes. For illustration, a maker may collaborate with its downstream spouse – retail merchant – to obtain the information about the existent demand of its client. Or, the maker may join forces with its upstream spouse – provider – to cut down the cost of natural stuffs. How to accomplish the coaction among the members in a supply concatenation? Information direction, particularly information sharing, is an appropriate manner to accomplish this end.

In this paper, the importance and benefit of information sharing in a supply concatenation and the manner to implement information sharing will be discussed in three different types of supply concatenation. That is, traditional supply concatenation, change by reversal supply and the closed-loop supply concatenation. The intent of this paper is to do the audience wage attending to function of information sharing in bettering the public presentation of a supply concatenation.

The construction of this paper is as follows. In subdivision 2, the benefit and the cost of information sharing will be illustrated in a traditional supply concatenation. Besides that, a popular and effectual manner of information sharing – Seller Managed Inventory ( VMI ) – will be introduced in a traditional supply concatenation excessively. Section 3 and 4 will discourse the function of information direction in contrary and closed-loop supply concatenation severally.

2.0 Information Sharing in a Traditional Supply Chain

A traditional supply concatenation, dwelling of providers, makers, retail merchants and clients, is a system of people, engineering, information, activities and resources involved in presenting a merchandise or service from provider to client ( Stadtler, 2008, p. 11 ) .

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In a supply concatenation, the intent of each member is to gain net income every bit much as possible. Therefore, all of them will do their ain optimum determinations, disregarding the overall public presentation of the whole supply concatenation. As a effect, they are loath to portion information with the others. Since they believe sharing information may weaken their power and advantage in a supply concatenation. However, in fact, missing of information sharing among members in a supply concatenation leads to inordinate operational costs. For illustration, retail merchant sells merchandises to the clients. So, retail merchant knows the demand information really good. If he does non desire to portion this information with his upstream spouse – maker, there will be unneeded cost in maker due to inaccurate prognosis conducted by maker ( Lee, Padmanabhan, & A ; Whang, 1997b, p. 546 ) . Specifically talking, if the prognosis exceeds the existent demand, there will be inordinate natural stuffs, keeping cost and warehousing cost. On the other manus, if maker underestimates the existent demand, the chance cost – cost for deficit – occurs. Besides that, in order to fulfill the demand, maker may set its agenda and pay excess cost for workers to complete the undertaking in clip. The similar state of affairs – excess cost – because of lacking of information sharing besides happens in provider and retail merchant. Harmonizing to a study, lacking of information sharing can take to an excess cost in the scope between 12.5 % and 25 % ( Lee, et al. , 1997b, p. 547 ) .

In order to cut down the operational cost, members in a supply concatenation begin to collaborate with each other to portion information. Many bookmans illustrate the benefits of information sharing in a supply concatenation ( Agrawal, Sengupta, & A ; Shanker, 2009, p. 577 ; Chan & A ; Chan, 2009, p. 216 ; Chen & A ; Lee, 2009, p. 783 ; Fiala, 2005, p. 411 ; Ha & A ; Tong, 2008, p. 702 ) . Agrawal, et Al. ( 2009, p. 578 ) illustrate that information sharing can efficaciously weaken bullwhip consequence, the demand order variableness in a supply concatenation were amplified from the downstream to the upstream ( Lee, Padmanabhan, & A ; Whang, 1997a, p. 95 ) , to cut down the operational cost in a supply concatenation. In their paper, they consider demand procedure, calculating theoretical account and refilling policy to suggest a theoretical account. After analyzing the theoretical account, they come to a decision that the variableness of order measure is reduced due to information about terminal clients ‘ demand shared with warehouse. Furthermore, they besides find that the benefit of information sharing is more if the warehouse lead-time becomes lower.

Even though information sharing can heighten the effectivity and efficiency of a supply concatenation, and do the supply concatenation to gain the overall optimum net income, there is some cost triggered by information sharing. If the cost is merely born by the informed organisation or, if there is no appropriate mechanism to portion the excess net income due to the information sharing by informed organisation, it is non certain that whether the informed member has any inducement to portion information with the uninformed spouses.

In a study ( Clark & A ; Hammond, 1997, p. 252 ) , retail merchants realize that the makers can gain more net income from the terminal clients demand information provided by the retail merchants. However, retail merchants are non certain that whether they can profit from information sharing with makers.

Chu & A ; Lee ( 2006, p. 1568 ) discourse how to promote retail merchant to portion information and how to split the cost involved in information sharing among members in a supply concatenation. They model a Bayesian game and happen that there are two factors impacting on the retail merchant to portion information. That is, the cost of uncovering information and the natural of market demand signal. If the disclosure cost is immense, retail merchant will non portion information regardless of the natural of market demand signal. On the other manus, if the disclosure cost is little, retail merchant is willing to portion information if a high demand is signalled, but holds the information if a low demand is signalled ( Chu & A ; Lee, 2006, p. 1576 ) . What ‘s more, different types of information have different costs. They demonstrate that, if all the types of information can accomplish the same end, the information which is the least dearly-won will be used. For illustration, the cost of point-of-sale ( POS ) information is higher than that of aggregated informations. If both types of informations can function the same intent, aggregated informations will be used ( Chu & A ; Lee, 2006, p. 1577 ) .

Since there are an sum of advantages of information sharing in cut downing the operational cost in a supply concatenation, which methods can be used to portion information? Vendor Managed Inventory ( VMI ) is an effectual and popular manner, which is applied in supermarket, food market, automotive and nutrient industry ( Cachon & A ; Fisher, 1997, p. 266 ; Kiesmuller & A ; Broekmeulen, 2010, p. 406 ; Tyan & A ; Wee, 2003, p. 11 ) . VMI refers to a collaborative scheme. In this scheme, supplier, alternatively of purchaser, monitors the stock list degree of purchaser and present the goods to the purchaser sporadically based on the gross revenues prognosis ( Waller, Johnson, & A ; Davis, 1999, p. 183 ) . There are six chief activities in VMI ( Kienle, 2004, p. 44 ) . That is, purchaser provides information about current gross revenues and stock list degree to the provider ; supplier examines the received informations and integrates into his ain endeavor procedure and programs to present goods to the purchaser ; supplier informs purchaser before bringing ; provider begins to provide goods ; purchaser received and shops goods in the warehouse and purchaser sends invoice to the provider.

As mentioned before, purchaser can admit that provider can gain excess net income by having the information from purchaser. But, the purchaser is non certain whether he can profit when he supply information to the provider. In fact, VMI can convey many advantages to purchaser ( Kiesmuller & A ; Broekmeulen, 2010, p. 408 ) .

The first advantage of implementing VMI for purchaser is to cut down operational cost. As to the purchaser, such as retail merchant, he ever faces a quandary: client service and stock list degree. If the retail merchant intends to do certain a good client service, he has to maintain a high degree of stock list in the warehouse to fulfill the demands at any clip. However, the high degree of stock list will be inordinate cost of retail merchant, thereby cut downing the net income. On the other manus, if the retail merchant tries to salvage the stock list cost, he can cut down the degree of stock list, which may take to a deficit and so lower the degree of client service. VMI can work out this quandary due to the frequent refilling by the provider. Therefore, retail merchant can fulfill the demand of clients really good at a lower stock list cost. Besides that, VMI can cut down the transit cost well. Since the provider decides the clip and volume of goods to present, he can do a agenda in progress. It means that he can utilize full truckload cargos to present goods, which costs less ( Waller, et al. , 1999, p. 184 ) .

What ‘s more, VMI can cut down the bullwhip consequence to a big extent ( Cachon & A ; Fisher, 1997, p. 268 ) . Bullwhip consequence is caused by uncertainness demand and interrupted information flows among members in a supply concatenation ( Lee, et al. , 1997b, p. 546 ) . With VMI, the upper watercourse members have entree to the information about existent demand of clients, which can assist them to better the truth of prediction. Therefore, there will be less unneeded cost in the supply concatenation.

The 3rd advantage of VMI is to avoid the sub-optimization. Without VMI, the purchaser may order the measure of goods to accomplish his ain optimum end, irrespective of the capacity of the provider. This phenomenon can take to sub-optimization of the whole supply concatenation. With VMI, purchaser and supplier portion information, so they can do determination to obtain the overall optimisation ( Kiesmuller & A ; Broekmeulen, 2010, p. 406 ) .

Besides VMI, uninterrupted refilling plans ( CRP ) is examined for cost decrease excessively. CRP refers to efficient refilling, which focuses on the betterment of the flows in a supply concatenation, both frontward to the terminal clients and backward to the natural stuff providers ( Yao & A ; Dresner, 2008, p. 362 ) . In CRP, purchaser and provider portion the degree of stock list to cut down the stock list degree on both houses. In VMI, provider has right to pull off the stock list of purchaser. Yao & A ; Dresner ( Yao & A ; Dresner, 2008, p. 374 ) comparison CRP and VMI in cut downing the operational cost in a supply concatenation. They find that when the refilling frequence additions, maker can gain more net income under VMI and retail merchant can profit more under CRP.

These paper mentioned before chiefly discuss end-customer-demand information sharing in a supply concatenation to better the truth of prediction or cut down the degree of stock list in the warehouse. However, this sort of research ignores the return flows in a supply concatenation. The return flows are caused by two chief grounds: client service and statute law ( Chouinard, D’Amours, & A ; AA?-Kadi, 2005, p. 105 ) .With regard to the client service, in order to set up trade name image and increase the gross revenues, houses provide warrant that clients can return the goods to the retail merchant within a certain period, such as 30,60, or 90 yearss, after purchase. This sort of return is defined as commercial returns ( Guide & A ; van Wassenhove, 2009, p. 11 ) . With respect to the statute law, more and more states issue rigorous Torahs to inquire makers to recycle the used merchandises from the clients and safely cover with these merchandises. For illustration, WEEE ( Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment ) Directive in Europe requires makers who produce electronic merchandises to cover with the end-of-life electrical and electronic waste in Europe ( Atasu & A ; Van Wassenhove, 2010, p. 27 ) . This sort of returns belong to end-of-use or end-of-life returns ( Guide & A ; van Wassenhove, 2009, p. 11 ) . In the U.S. , clients can return the nomadic phones after purchase without any grounds with 30 yearss ( commercial returns ) . The replace rate for nomadic phones is about 80 % yearly. The bulk of the replaced phones are to the full functional. The ground for clients to alter their nomadic phones is that clients treat nomadic phones as stylish merchandises. The reaching of new type of phones makes the used but to the full functional 1s out of day of the month ( end-of-use returns ) . As to some clients, they merely change their nomadic phones at the terminal of merchandise life rhythm, which belongs to end-of-life returns ( Guide & A ; van Wassenhove, 2009, p. 11 ) .

Then, a inquiry is proposed. What are the features of return flows and how to direction the information in this sort of flow?

3.0 Information Management in a Reverse Supply Chain

Many writers propose the definition of return flows in a supply concatenation – contrary supply concatenation. Among these definitions, the definition given by the European Working Group on Reverse Logistics ( REVLOG ) is seemed to be the most convincing 1. That is, the procedure of covering with the backward flows of natural stuffs, in procedure stock list and finished goods from users to a proper disposal point ( M. de Brito & A ; Dekker, 2004, p. 5 ) . By and large talking, unlike the flows in traditional supply concatenation, the 1s in rearward supply concatenation Begin at the downstream of the concatenation, such as clients. Therefore, there is new challenge in rearward supply concatenation. It is highly hard to calculate the sum and the clip of the supply – that is, the used merchandise returns from the terminal clients to the disposal point ( M. P. de Brito & A ; van der Laan, 2009, p. 85 ) . The inaccurate prognosis of returns may take to the jobs in the stock list, transit and remanufacturing, which will bring on immense operational cost. Hence, it is imperative to pull off information in a rearward supply concatenation to better the quality of prognosis and promote the cooperation among member in the contrary supply concatenation.

Chouinard, et Al. ( 2005, p. 105 ) discourse how to incorporate rearward logistics activities into an organisation and how to organize this new system. In their article, they emphasize the importance of information direction in a rearward supply concatenation. They suggest that information direction should see the issues about a merchandise which can be reintroduced at a different degree of an organisation ‘s activities. Besides that, new attacks for control and the add-on of information should be investigated excessively. What ‘s more, the information defined in a rearward supply concatenation should be involved at tactic, operational and strategic degrees.

Since it is really difficult to obtain adequate information in a rearward supply concatenation to do determinations, de Brito & A ; van der Laan ( 2009, p. 97 ) analyze the impact of imperfect information in the return procedure on the public presentation of stock list direction. They use four methods to calculate lead clip. After analysis, they come to a decision that in the instance of imperfect information, the most informed method may non guarantee the best public presentation on stock list direction.

The documents about information direction in contrary supply concatenation chiefly concentrate on how to use information to cut down the operational cost in a concatenation. However, there is small inducement for members in a concatenation to better the ability of information direction if the lone intent is for the client service and statute law with less cost. Therefore, in the following subdivision, another type of supply concatenation – closed-loop supply concatenation – will be introduced. In this type of supply concatenation, the undertaking of information direction is non merely to cut down the operational cost, but besides to maximise the net income in a supply concatenation.

4.0 Closed-loop Supply Chain

In the latest five old ages, more and more bookmans and enterprisers pay their attending on closed-loop supply concatenation. Closed-loop supply concatenation can be briefly defined as the combination of forward and backward supply concatenation ( Ferguson & A ; Souza, 2010, p. 2 ) . The activities in a closed-loop supply concatenation involve recycling, rating, temperament, remanufacturing and remarketing. Among these activities, remanufacturing can add value in the concatenation.

Since research in this country is comparatively new, there are few documents discuss information direction in a closed-loop supply concatenation. Ketzenberg ( 2009, p. 502 ) surveies the value of information in a house which satisfies client ‘s demand by new merchandise, remanufactured merchandise or a mix of both type. There are four types of uncertainness: demand, returns, recovery output, and capacity use. In this scene, he discusses the value of information in three types: demand, output and capacity. He finds that different types of information can go the most valuable in different state of affairss. For illustration, when the rate of return is high, the output loss is high, the variableness of returns is high and the handiness of capacity is high, yield information is the most valuable 1. If the return rates and return variableness are high, punishment costs are high, yield loss is low, capacity information is the most of import 1. What ‘s more, if the demand variableness, capacity handiness and keeping cost are high, demand information is the most valuable one.

5.0 Decision

As information is a cardinal factor for an organisation to cut down operational cost and obtain competitory advantages in a market place, information direction is indispensable and polar. This paper discusses the information direction in three types of supply concatenation. That is, traditional supply concatenation, change by reversal supply concatenation and closed-loop supply concatenation. After reexamining literature, it is obvious that the survey about information direction in closed-loop supply concatenation is scare. Therefore, in the hereafter, bookmans and enterprisers can do attempt in this facet to cut down the cost and maximise the net income.


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