Towards Autonomous Supply Chains: Definition, Characteristics, Conceptual Framework, and Autonomy Levels

Liming Xu, Stephen Mak, Yaniv Proselkov, Alexandra Brintrup
Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence (cs.AI), Multiagent Systems (cs.MA), Systems and Control (eess.SY), Optimization and Control (math.OC)
2023-10-13 00:00:00
Recent global disruptions, such as the pandemic and geopolitical conflicts, have profoundly exposed vulnerabilities in traditional supply chains, requiring exploration of more resilient alternatives. Autonomous supply chains (ASCs) have emerged as a potential solution, offering increased visibility, flexibility, and resilience in turbulent trade environments. Despite discussions in industry and academia over several years, ASCs lack well-established theoretical foundations. This paper addresses this research gap by presenting a formal definition of ASC along with its defining characteristics and auxiliary concepts. We propose a layered conceptual framework called the MIISI model. An illustrative case study focusing on the meat supply chain demonstrates an initial ASC implementation based on this conceptual model. Additionally, we introduce a seven-level supply chain autonomy reference model, delineating a trajectory towards achieving a full supply chain autonomy. Recognising that this work represents an initial endeavour, we emphasise the need for continued exploration in this emerging domain. We anticipate that this work will stimulate further research, both theoretical and technical, and contribute to the continual evolution of ASCs.
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