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A Multiagent Negotiation Based Model to Support the Collaborative Supply Chain Planning Process

Dpto. Organizacion de Empresas, Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Edificio Ferrandiz y Carbonell, 2
03801 Alcoy (Alicante), Spain

Josefa MULA
CIGIP (Centro de Investigacion Gestion e Ingenieria de Produccion), Dpto. Organizacion de Empresas. Escuela Politecnica Superior de Alcoy, Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Edificio Ferrandiz y Carbonell, 2
03801 Alcoy (Alicante), Spain

CIGIP (Centro de Investigacion Gestion e Ingenieria de Produccion), Dpto. Organizacion de Empresas. Escuela Politecnica Superior de Alcoy, Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Edificio Ferrandiz y Carbonell, 2
03801 Alcoy (Alicante), Spain

Facultad de Informatica, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Ciudad Universitaria s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain

Abstract: Multiagent systems are inherently distributed and support well the modelling of organizational issues such as negotiation mechanisms and workflows. In this sense, a decentralized supply chain configuration process can be easily modelled as an information sharing processes where nodes (agents) collaborate, for example, in planning and decision-making. This paper presents a novel collaborative planning model for supply chain networks that supports a distributed negotiation process from a decentralized perspective. The hypothesis presented herein is that by collaborating in the information exchange related with the visibility of the demand plans, improvements on the total profit level of the supply chain nodes, and of the supply chain as whole, can be found.

Keywords: Decentralized collaborative planning, supply chain management, multiagent system, negotiation.

>>Full text
Jorge E. HERNÁNDEZ, Josefa MULA, Raul POLER, Juan PAVON, A Multiagent Negotiation Based Model to Support the Collaborative Supply Chain Planning Process, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 20 (1), pp. 43-54, 2011.

1. Introduction

A supply chain can be defined as a group of parties or partners and also as a distribution network oriented to perform functions such as materials procurement, transformation of these materials into intermediate and finished products, and the distribution of these finished products to customers. From the final customers’ point of view, all the demand needs to be satisfied at the right time and in the right quantity. The concept of supply chain management arises then to integrate all the processes oriented to manage (from the physical, organizational, decisional and technological points of view), how all the parties should be organized in order to satisfy this initial demand. From a modelling point of view, the supply chain can be modelled as a network of autonomous supply chain nodes [28], where the main node actions, such as orders, order filling, shipping, receiving, production, etc., and node policies, such as inputs and outputs, inventory policies, costs and rates, are also considered from a linked relationship establishing their links and common constrains.

In order to support this linked relationship it is important to consider and accept the goals of every node (at least, for most of them). Many of these goals are related to improvement processes, so the fact that supply chain nodes tend to generate innovation in their processes should be considered. Furthermore, nowadays most innovation and research works are done by partnerships of competent entities each having some specialized skills, which imply that innovation can be categorized into four types: derivative, platform, breakthrough and processes [29]. In this sense, when the innovation is supported by mutual agreements among the supply chain nodes, it is possible to talk about co-innovation. Thereafter, the co-innovation concept refers mainly to support external partnerships to exploit new technologies, knowledge, processes, etc. Nevertheless, under a co-innovation perspective, it is more difficult to apply the ‘win-win’ principle, because the likelihood of stopping before the product is marketed is significant [16]. Therefore, a positive response to this challenge would be a collaborative innovation in pursuit the continuous improvement on the existing processes and the development of products and services as well, which add value to the final consumer [8] and to the supply chain members. Hence, the collaborative processes will emerge by sharing the proper information in order to enhance the collaboration in supply chains, which is important in terms of innovation such as high quality, lower costs, more timely deliveries, efficient operations and the effective coordination of activities [25]. Thus, the level of collaboration in the supply chain will depend on whether the supply chain members are willing to share and exchange the information required to support their planning process [9]. Moreover, the supply chain management trend is to move from the classical centralised approach toward the decentralized information processes [13]. Within this it is possible to ensure an independent supply chain interaction which means that the right technology must be considered in order to support these complex facts. In this context, one of the best technologies in order to support this is the multiagent paradigm [14]. These technologies, among many perspectives, consider the decentralized and collaborative approaches in supply chains. Moreover, under a planning context, the supply chain planning plays a key role regarding to the required coordination effort among the nodes [22]. Thereafter, in order to give a solution proposal to this complex issue related to collaborative supply chain management matters, this paper presents a novel decentralized collaborative planning model for supply chain co-innovation by implementing a multiagent-based negotiation model (ANEM).

Therefore, the main contribution of this paper is twofold; firstly, the theoretical proposal of a decentralized collaborative supply chain production planning model in an MRP environment; secondly, the practical validation of this model by using a multiagent-based model in a specific problem. Current proposals in the literature address this problem in a more general way by mainly focusing on technological requirements and advances. The main advantage of this proposal is that it addresses very specifically, theoretically, practically and in detail the supply chain production planning problem in a collaborative manner and in a decentralized MRP environment.

This paper is set out as follows: Section 2 reviews the relevant literature on multiagent systems in the supply chain management under a collaborative planning context. Section 3 extends the collaboration concept to the decentralized perspective in the supply chain.

Then, Section 4 provides experimental results to validate the ANEM proposal and also highlights their contributions to the multiagent research field from a qualitative point of view. Finally, Section 5 provides the main conclusions and further research.


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