Managing finished-goods inventory under capacitated delayed differentiation
Delayed differentiation or postponement is widely advocated to mitigate conflicts between product diversity and inventory cost savings. Manufacturers practicing postponement often suffer from severely constrained finishing capacities and noticeable finishing lead times. Therefore, inventories are still needed for finished products. Using the concept of inventory shortfall, this paper studies base-stock inventory models with and without demand forecasting and provides a computationally efficient method to set optimal inventory targets for finished products under capacitated postponement. Computations show inventory-saving benefit quickly vanishes after the capacity reaches a certain level. The value of forecasted advance-demand information (ADI) to postponement is justified, but can easily be overstated. Finishing capacities usually force manufacturers to build ahead according to demand forecast. When capacity limitation becomes severe, intuitions often guide producers to build to forecast even more than finishing lead times ahead. Results of this research indicate that these intuitions may be invalid and build to forecast more than finishing lead times ahead may not be a good practice. Further studies reveal that under capacitated postponement the forecasted advance-demand information is useful only when the variance of demand forecast errors is less than that of demands, and show that the optimal forecast lead time can be obtained in the same way as if the capacity is unlimited.
Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
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