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On the benefits of operational flexibility in a distribution network with transshipment


  • Yu, Dennis Z.
  • Tang, Sammi Y.
  • Niederhoff, Julie


We consider a centralized distribution network with multiple retailers who receive replenishment inventory to satisfy customer demand of the local markets. The operational flexibility of the network is defined as the opportunity that one retailer's excess inventory can be transferred to satisfy other retailers' unmet customer demand due to stock-outs. A general modeling framework is developed to optimize retailers' order quantities under any possible flexibility level of a stylized two-stage distribution network. We apply the framework to formulate and solve the transshipment problem of a distribution network with three retailers. Six typical flexibility levels are investigated to make the comparison study on the firm's profit performance under three ordering quantity policies: average demand, newsvendor order quantity, and optimal order quantity. We find that the operational flexibility and system optimization are complements to the firm's performance. The ordering policy with newsvendor ordering quantity can perform fairly well with moderate flexibility level when compared with the optimized ordering policy with full flexibility.

Suggested Citation

  • Yu, Dennis Z. & Tang, Sammi Y. & Niederhoff, Julie, 2011. "On the benefits of operational flexibility in a distribution network with transshipment," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 350-361, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:39:y:2011:i:3:p:350-361

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Seyed M. Iravani & Mark P. Van Oyen & Katharine T. Sims, 2005. "Structural Flexibility: A New Perspective on the Design of Manufacturing and Service Operations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(2), pages 151-166, February.
    2. Jun Zhang, 2005. "Transshipment and Its Impact on Supply Chain Members' Performance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(10), pages 1534-1539, October.
    3. Gary D. Eppen, 1979. "Note--Effects of Centralization on Expected Costs in a Multi-Location Newsboy Problem," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(5), pages 498-501, May.
    4. Lingxiu Dong & Nils Rudi, 2004. "Who Benefits from Transshipment? Exogenous vs. Endogenous Wholesale Prices," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(5), pages 645-657, May.
    5. Colangelo, Antonio & Scarsini, Marco & Shaked, Moshe, 2006. "Some positive dependence stochastic orders," Journal of Multivariate Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 46-78, January.
    6. Nils Rudi & Sandeep Kapur & David F. Pyke, 2001. "A Two-Location Inventory Model with Transshipment and Local Decision Making," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(12), pages 1668-1680, December.
    7. Tang, Shao-Long & Yan, Hong, 2010. "Pre-distribution vs. post-distribution for cross-docking with transshipments," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 192-202, June.
    8. Jan A. Van Mieghem & Nils Rudi, 2002. "Newsvendor Networks: Inventory Management and Capacity Investment with Discretionary Activities," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 4(4), pages 313-335, August.
    9. William C. Jordan & Stephen C. Graves, 1995. "Principles on the Benefits of Manufacturing Process Flexibility," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(4), pages 577-594, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lee, Chungseung & Park, Kun Soo, 2016. "Inventory and transshipment decisions in the rationing game under capacity uncertainty," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 82-97.
    2. Su, Ping & Tian, Zhongjun & Wang, Haiyan, 2012. "On service degrade at a discount: Capacity, demand pooling, and optimal discounting," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 358-367.


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