InformationWeek Feature: Help For Tackling Global Supply-Chain Issues

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In an increasingly interconnected world, it's critical for businesses to ensure that their global supply chains are operating at peak efficiency. A research project under way at Georgia Tech's School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, undertaken in conjunction with Intel as part of the school's executive master's program in international logistics, is attempting to build a distributed supply-chain simulation model to test communications over the Internet among factories, warehouses, and other participants in supply chains using High Level Architecture, a software infrastructure for building a federation of many simulators, each modeling a piece of a composite system.

"The goal of the research is to create a means of testing diverse supply-chain strategies and operational tactics under different scenarios in order to discover which strategy is likely to achieve the best performance," says Terri Herod, managing director of the executive master's program. "Eventually, the simulation methodology developed could be integrated with rough-cut analytic tools for faster analysis and decision-making."
Intel supplied $30,000 worth of hardware in October to support the research. It's one of two new research projects taking place as part of the 4-year-old executive master's program; the other one is exploring solving problems around contract management issues.

The 18-month program in which students meet at different locations around the world in five two-week sessions draws students primarily from the VP and director level, with an average of 13 years of experience in the industry, many from Fortune 500 organizations. Heidi Cerrud, procurement officer at a Red Cross Regional Logistics Unit, is participating in the program. Cerrud is teamed with executives from Ability/Tri-Modal Transportation Services, Exel, Intel, and Intradeco on a global project related to using radio-frequency identification technology in the supply chain. What she's learning as part of the team's project could have implications for her work at the Red Cross, Cerrud says.

"This is a really useful project for the Red Cross. During a disaster, many things can happen to put shipments in peril. By using RFID technology to track our goods, we can avoid losing large shipments of cargo," Cerrud says. The Red Cross is working on a project using RFID, she says. "RFID is in the pre-implementation phase at the Red Cross, after which it is expected to be tested using an actual cargo shipment."

By Elena Malykhina, InformationWeek magazine


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