Transforming Field and Service Operations

pp 237-256


Enabling Smart Logistics for Service Operations

  • Yingli WangAffiliated withCardiff Business School Email author 
  • , Mohamed NaimAffiliated withCardiff Business School
  • , Leighton EvansAffiliated withUniversity of Swansea

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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.