Enabling Smart Logistics for Service Operations

  • Yingli WangEmail author
  • Mohamed Naim
  • Leighton Evans


Efficient and on-time execution of field tasks has been found to rely heavily on internal availability of inventories. However, the lack of flexibility in the way information flows along the logistics chain has led to poor inventory replenishment lead times. This results in delayed execution of field tasks and has a negative impact on customer experience. This chapter articulates the concept of communication flexibility, in the form of dimensions, by which operations managers may judge the ability of the logistics chain to configure and reconfigure information linkages in response to a changing environment. Until now the term ‘communication flexibility’ has been loosely used in the literature. This research establishes a more analytical definition that forms the foundation for more comprehensive empirical quantitative and qualitative research in the field of flexible operations. The research method is a combination of conceptual and literature review based research. The chapter proposes a conceptual model of intra-organisational communication flexibility which is composed of three levels, namely, transactional, operational and strategic. Each level consists of a number of dimensions and sub-dimensions that together define communication flexibility in logistics operations. Current research in the deployment of ICT in inventory projects is then considered in depth in order to preliminarily verify and validate the proposed model. This chapter provides an overview of current best practice and technological use in inventory management that emphasises the importance of visibility in the management of inventory achieved through ICT deployment.


  1. Ala-Risku T, Collin J, Holmstr MJ, Vuorinen J-P (2010) Site inventory tracking in the project supply chain: problem description and solution proposal in a very large telecom project. Supply Chain Manag: An International Journal 15:252–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alfaro JA, Rabade LA (2009) Traceability as a strategic tool to improve inventory management: a case study in the food industry. Int J Prod Econ 118:104–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. (2011) Amazon elastic computer cloud (Amazon Ec2). Accessed 27 July 2011
  4. Badii A, Sharif AM (2003) Integrating information and knowledge for enterprise innovation. Logist Inform Manag 16(2):145–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baffo I, Confessore G, Liotta G, Stecca G (2009) A cooperative model to improve hospital equipments and drugs management. In: Camarhina-Matos L, Paraskakis I, Afsarmanesh H (eds) Leveraging knowledge for innovation in collaborative networks. Springer, BostonGoogle Scholar
  6. Becker J (2011) Information models for process management—new approaches to old challenges. In: Carugati A, Rossignoli C (eds) Emerging themes in information systems and organization studies. Physica-Verlag HD, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  7. Bernardes ES, Hanna MD (2009) A theoretical review of flexibility, agility and responsiveness in the operations management literature. Int J Oper Prod Manag 29(1):30–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berghout E, Nijland M, Powell P (2011) Management of lifecycle costs and benefits: lessons from information systems practice. Comput Ind 62:755–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Butner K (2010) The smarter supply chain of the future. Strat Leader 38(1):22–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Byrd TA, Turner ED (2000) An exploratory analysis of the information technology infrastructure flexibility construct. J Manag Inf Syst 17(1):167–208Google Scholar
  11. Carlos FP, Vieira NDJ (2009) Information technology and communication and best practices in it lifecycle management. J Technol Manag Innovat 3:80–94Google Scholar
  12. Chituc CM, Toscano C, Azevedo A (2008) Interoperability in collaborative networks: independent and industry-specific initiatives—the case of the footwear industry. Comput Ind 59(7):741–757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Christiaanse E, Diepen TV, Damsgaard J (2004) Proprietary versus internet technologies and the adoption and impact of electronic marketplaces. J Strat Inform Syst 13(2):151–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Closs DJ, Swink M (2005) The role of information connectivity in making flexible logistics programs successful. Int J Phys Distrib Logist Manag 35(4):259–277Google Scholar
  15. Davies I, Mason R, Lalwani CS (2007) Assessing the impact of ICT on UK general haulage companies. Int J Prod Econ 106(1):12–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davis DF, Golicic SL (2010) Gaining comparative advantage in supply chain relationships: the mediating role of market-oriented IT competence. J Acad Market Sci 38(1):56–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. De Brito MP, Van der Laan EA (2009) Inventory control with product returns: the impact of imperfect information. Eur J Oper Res 194(1):85–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. De Vries J (2011) The shaping of inventory systems in health services: a stakeholder analysis. Int J Prod Econ 133(1):60–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. DHL (2011) Track DHL express shipments., Accessed Feb 4 2011
  20. Donk DPV (2008) Challenges in relating supply chain management and information and communication technology. Int J Oper Prod Manag 28(4):308–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Edwards P, Peters M, Sharman G (2001) The effectiveness of information systems in supporting the extended supply chain. J Bus Logist 22(1):1–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. El-Thalji I, Liyanage JP (2010) Integrated asset management practices for Offshore wind power industry: a critical review and a road map to the future. School of Engineering, Linnaeus University, SwedenGoogle Scholar
  23. Emmanouilidis C, Liyanage JP, Jantunen E (2009) Mobile solutions for engineering asset and maintenance management. J Qual Mainten Eng 15:92–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Folinas D, Manthou V, Sigala M, Vlachopoulou M (2004) E-Volution of a supply chain: cases and best practices. Internet Res 14(4):274–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gerwin D (1987) An agenda for research on the flexibility of manufacturing processes. Int J Oper Prod Manag 7(1):38–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gosain S, Malhotra A, Sawy OAE (2004) Coordinating for flexibility in E-business supply chains. J Manag Inform Syst 21(3):7–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gospill J, McAlpine H, Hicks B (2011) Trends in technology and their possible implications on PLM: looking towards 2020. In: 8th international conference on project life cycle management (PLM 11). University of Eindhoven, EindhovenGoogle Scholar
  28. Haider A, Koronios A, Quirchmayr G (2006) You cannot manage what you cannot measure: an information systems based asset management perspective. In: Mathew J, Kennedy J, Ma L, Tan A, Anderson D (eds) Engineering asset management. Springer, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. Hayes B (2008) Cloud computing. Comm ACM 51(7):9–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Heaney B (2009) Integrated transportation management: improve responsiveness with real-time control of execution. Aberdeen Group. Accessed 21 Jan 2010
  31. Heaney B, Sadlovska V (2010) Supply chain visibility excellence. Aberdeen Group. Accessed 21 Jan
  32. Hellstrom D, Wiberg M (2009) Exploring an open-loop RFID implementation in the automotive industry. IEEE conference on emerging technologies and factory automation (ETFA) 2009, 22–25 Sept 2009, pp 1–4Google Scholar
  33. Hertwig M (2012) Institutional effects in the adoption of e-business-technology: evidence from the German automotive supplier industry. Inform Organ 22:252–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Holmström J, Partanen J, Tuomi J, Walter M (2010) Rapid manufacturing in the spare parts supply chain. J Manuf Tech Manag 21(6):687–697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Holweg H, Disney SM, Holmström J, Småros J (2005) Supply chain collaboration: making sense of the strategy continuum. Eur Manag J 23(2):170–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Huckridge J, Potter A, Wang Y, Beresford A, Naim M (2010) Enabling multimodal transport: a Welsh perspective. In: Proceedings of the 15th logistics research network conference, Harrogate, UKGoogle Scholar
  37. Huet O, Guillaume C, Gaudin C (2010) Joint assets. IEEE Power Energy Magazine 8:88–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. (2011) Tesco video., Accessed 4 Feb 2011
  39. Jones N (2011) Near field communications (NFC) – the next step after RFID. Accessed 31 Jan 2011
  40. Kangilaski T (2009) Asset management software implementation challenges for electricity companies. Industrial Electronics. IECON ‘09. 35th annual conference of IEEE, 3–5 Nov 2009, pp 3575–3580Google Scholar
  41. Klein R, Rai A (2009) Interfirm strategic information flows in logistics supply chain relationships. MIS Quart 33(4):735–762Google Scholar
  42. Lee HL, Padmanabhan V, Whang S (1997) Information distortion in a supply chain: the bullwhip effect. Manag Sci 43(4):546–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Leijten M, Koppenjan JFM (2010) Asset management for the Dutch railway infrastructure. In: 2010 third international conference on Infrastructure systems and services: next generation Infrastructure systems for eco-cities (INFRA), 11–13 Nov, pp 1–6Google Scholar
  44. Liu X, Sun Y (2011) Information flow management of vendor-managed inventory system in automobile parts inbound logistics based on internet of things. J Software 6:8Google Scholar
  45. Lou P, Liu Q, Zhou Z, Huaiqing W (2011) Agile supply chain management over the internet of things. In: 2011 International conference on management and service science (MASS), 12–14 Aug 2011, pp 1–4Google Scholar
  46. Marasco A (2008) Third-party logistics: a literature review. Int J Prod Econ 113(1):127–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mason A, Shaw A, Al-Shamma’a AI (2010) Inventory management in the packaged gas industry using wireless sensor networks. In: Mukhopadhyay SC, Leung H (eds) Advances in wireless sensors and sensor networks. Springer, Berlin, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  48. Mithas S, Ramasubbu N, Sambamurthy V (2011) How information management capability influences firm performance. MIS Quart 35(1):237–256Google Scholar
  49. Naim MM, Potter A, Mason R, Bateman N (2006) The role of transport flexibility in logistics provision. Int J Logist Manag 17(3):297–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. O’Sullivan D (2007) Software as a service: developments in supply chain it. Logist Transport Focus 9(3):30–33Google Scholar
  51. Panetto H, Molina A (2008) Enterprise integration and interoperability in manufacturing systems: trends and issues. Comput Ind 59(7):641–646CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Paulraj A, Lado AA, Chen IJ (2008) Inter-organizational communication as a relational competency: antecedents and performance outcomes in collaborative buyer–supplier relationships. J Operat Manag 26(1):45–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Phillips PA, Wright C (2009) E-Business’s impact on organizational flexibility. J Bus Res 62(11):1071–1080CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Premkumar G, Ramamurthy K, Saunders C (2005) Information processing view of organisations: an exploratory examination of fit in the context of interorganisational relationships. J Manag Inform Syst 22(1):257–294Google Scholar
  55. (2011) Vehicle tracking lease price., Accessed 27 July 2011
  56. Rainer RK, Cegielski CG (2010) Introduction to information systems: enabling and transforming business, 3rd edn. Wiley, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  57. Sahin F, Robinson EP (2002) Flow coordination and information sharing in supply chains: review, implications, and directions for future research. Decis Sci 33(4):505–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Samaddar S, Nargundkar S, Daley M (2006) Inter-organizational information sharing: the role of supply network configuration and partner goal congruence. Eur J Operat Res 174(2):744–765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sambamurthy V, Bharadwaj A, Grover V (2003) Shaping agility through digital options: reconceptualising the role of information technology in contemporary firms. MIS Quart 27(2):237–263Google Scholar
  60. Sanchez AM, Perez MP (2005) Supply chain flexibility and firm performance: a conceptual model and empirical study in the automotive industry. Int J Operat Prod Manag 25(7):681–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sharif AM (2010) It’s written in the cloud: the hype and promise of cloud computing. J Enterprise Inform Manag 23(2):131–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Shen W, Hao Q, Xue Y (2012) A loosely coupled system integration approach for decision support in facility management and maintenance. Autom Construct 25:41–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Slack N (1987) The flexibility of manufacturing systems. Int J Operat Prod Manag 7(4):35–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Slack N (2005) The changing nature of operations flexibility. Int J Operat Prod Manag 25(12):1201–1210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Smith AD, Offodile F (2002) Information management of automatic data capture: an overview of technical developments. Inform Manag Comput Secur 10(3):109–118Google Scholar
  66. Stevenson M, Spring M (2007) Flexibility from a supply chain perspective: definition and review. Int J Operat Prod Manag 27(7):685–713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Swafford PM, Ghosh S, Murthy N (2006) A framework for assessing value chain agility. Int J Operat Prod Manag 26(2):118–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Swafford PM, Ghosh S, Murthy N (2008) Achieving supply chain agility through it integration and flexibility. Int J Prod Econ 116(2):288–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Taylor GA, Wallom DCH, Grenard S, Yunta Huete A, Axon CJ (2011) Recent developments towards novel high performance computing and communications solutions for smart distribution network operation. In: 2nd IEEE PES international conference and exhibition on Innovative Smart Grid Technologies (ISGT Europe), 5–7 Dec 2011, pp 1–8Google Scholar
  70. The Institute of Grocery Distribution (2011) Guide to transport technology case study: Mars—Supply chain connectivity. Accessed 6 Feb 2011
  71. Ting S, Kwok S, Tsang A, Lee W (2011) Critical elements and lessons learnt from the implementation of an RFID-enabled healthcare management system in a medical organization. J Med Syst 35:657–669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Turban E, Volonino L (2010) Information technology for management: transforming organisations in the digital economy, 7th edn. Wiley, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  73. Uckelmann D (2008) A definition approach to smart logistics. In: Balandin S, Moltchanov D, Koucheryavy Y (eds) Next generation teletraffic and wired/wireless advanced networking. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 273–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Viswanathan N (2008) Process collaboration in multi-enterprise supply chains – leveraging the global business network. Aberdeen ResearchGoogle Scholar
  75. Wang Y, Potter A (2007) The application of real time tracking technologies in freight transport. The IEEE third international conference on signal-image technology and Internet-based systems, Shanghai, China, pp 298–304Google Scholar
  76. Ward J, Peppard J (2002) Strategic planning for information systems, 3rd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  77. Wong CWY, Lai KH, Ngai EWT (2009) The role of supplier operational adaptation on the performance of it-enabled transport logistics under environmental uncertainty. Int J Prod Econ 122(1):47–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Zhang Q, Vonderembse MA, Lim JS (2006) Spanning flexibility: supply chain information dissemination drives strategy development and customer satisfaction. Supply Chain Manag 11(5):390–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardiff Business SchoolCardiffUK
  2. 2.University of SwanseaSwanseaUK

Personalised recommendations