Analysis of enterprise supply chain communication networks in engineering product development

Author:Richard Addo-Tenkorang, Petri T. Helo
Publication Date:13 Feb 2017
Analysis of enterprise supply
chain communication networks in
engineering product development
Richard Addo-Tenkorang
Department of Production, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland and
College of Engineering and Technology,
Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST),
Palapye, Botswana, and
Petri T. Helo
Department of Production, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland
Purpose For decades now, industrial manufacturerscomplex product development (CPD) activities have
seen various improvement approaches as well as product development (PD) support processes all in the quest
to achieve shorter PD lead-times and higher return on investments. CPD process improvements, in terms of
complex engineering design and delivery, still lack a lot more variance to be addressed on the better, faster
and cheaperparadigm for efficient communication and information exchange flow processes. The paper
aims to discuss these issues.
Design/methodology/approach This paper presents employing social network theory analysis and
statistical Pearson (r) correlation analysis in a triangulation approach to a proposed optimum conceptual
informationtechnology systemsarchitecture and a best practiceinformation flow process towardenhancing
an industrial sustainable competitive advantage. Closed-end questionnaires were used to collect data for the scale
or level of communication network from a sample size of eight Ship Power supply chain network complex
engineering design and delivery systems-design teams with at least five members fromeach team.
Findings Two extremely interesting findings and observations were identified from the analysis carried
out (isolates and close-harmonic analysis) as well as the findings from the hypothesestesting. These essential
analyses of the engineering systems-design teams were conducted by using the triangulation or mixed-
method described in the abstract methodology identified above.
Originality/value Effective and efficient real-time communication is seen as the vehicle for effective
organization management. Although there may be some studies on effective technical communication in
organizational and enterprise supply chain management settings, this research identifies a new robust and
extensive analysis and feasible solutions to most of the communication bottlenecks and inefficient socio-
industrial information flow processes, which need enhancement for industrial competitive advantage.
Furthermore, the contribution of this paper further enhances the level 4 implementation aspect of the supply
chain operation reference model in a replicable industry-specific perspective.
Keywords Information technology, Enterprise supply chain management, Industrial flexibility,
Organization theory, Pearsons correlation analysis, Social network theory (SNT) analysis
Paper type Case study
Current supply chain management (SCM) practice has sought to create what is termed dynamic
flexibility. The supply chain councils(SCC)supply chain operation reference (SCOR)
model/framework makes it possible for organizations to quickly determine and compare the
performance of supply chain (SC) and related operations withintheir organization andagainst
The International Journal of
Logistics Management
Vol. 28 No. 1, 2017
pp. 47-74
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/IJLM-12-2014-0204
Received 27 December 2014
Revised 26 August 2015
23 December 2015
Accepted 27 December 2015
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of the case study company which allowed the
researchers to use their e-SCM engineering system-design teams for analyzing, evaluating and feasibly
proposing viable best practicetechnical communication network solutions and also to continue to
collect more data for further research. Finally, the authors would also like to acknowledge the
anonymous reviewers of this paper for their very constructive comments.
Analysis of
other organizations (Supply Chain Council (SCC), 2010). This allows firms to cope with certain
changes in operational demands and technology, but only within the set structure of their
existing SC design (Christopher and Holweg, 2011). However, the SCC-SCOR model does not
include the level 4 implementation phase of the SCOR mode/framework, which describes the
industry-specific SC processes and activities required to perform the SCOR level 3 processes
consisting mainly of the SC execution process. Hence, in other words, the level 4 processes
describe the detailed SC operations flow processes, including the technical communication
network implementation of industry-specific enterprise supply ch ain management (e-SCM)
process. Although the SCOR model does not detail the level 4 processes, there is an imminent
need for industrial organizations to propose and/or develop their own level 4 processes within
the best practicebenchmarking SCOR model. Therefore, this research paper attempts to
analyze a proposition for an effective and efficient technical communication network for
industrial manufacturing e-SCM network activities. This contribution is not only necessary but
relevant and timely in complementing and enhancing the technical communication aspect of
the level 4 implementation process of the SCC-SCOR model (SCC, 2010).
Thus, industrialand institutional benchmarkingfor best practicecompetitiveadvantage
in terms of effective and efficient enterprise communication network relationships can never
be over-emphasized (Humphries et al.,2007; Puvanasvaran et al., 2009; Min et al., 2005;Tsanos
et al., 2014), and thisis a rapidly changing global SC approach in termsof industrial business
environment. Among many other challenging factors, it is imperative that organizations are
capable of responding to any changing parameters concerning new/complex product
development (N/CPD). Furthermore, this must be done in an efficient and effective manner
(Gligor and Holcomb, 2012, 2014; Gligor et al., 2013; Kampstra et al., 2006). The quest for
sustaining enterprise supply chain (e-SC) competitive advantage and operational survival in
industrial organizations have compelled them to implement new strategies based on
collaboration with their SC network partners and advanced utilization of information
technology (IT) systems and internet-based services (Geunes et al., 2002).
According to Musa et al. (2014), end-to-end SC product visibility (i.e. product tracking and
tracing) has been exploited as a means of product security, process control and optimization in
many industrial sectors, including huge complex products such as jet engines aviation, ship
power engines marine, automobiles, etc. (Maier et al., 2008; Hsu and Wallace, 2007;
Addo-Tenkorang and Eyob, 2012). Chandra and Grabis (2007) identified some key triggers for
designing and implementing SC networks with regard to effectiveness, efficiency, flexibility and
responsiveness. These include the introduction of new/complex product(s), upgrades for existing
product(s), and the introduction of a new or improved PD process(es), and in addition the
allocation of new or re-allocation of existing resource(s), selection of new supplier(s), de-selection
of existing ones; changes in demand patterns for complex product(s) manufactured; changes in
lead-times for product and/or product process life cycle, and changes in commitments among the
SC network partners. Childerhouse and Towill (2011) in their research on effective SCs via quick
scan audit methodology, state that the practical context of SCM is very complex. Thus, the unit
of analysis can be broad (e.g. SC network) or narrow (e.g. internal integration). Therefore, SCM is
a complex operational approach to study because it involves the integration of and/or
interactions between most of the business functions of an industrial organization. Furthermore,
SCM research can be conducted at all levels of management decision making strategic
communication network, operational (e.g. Optimizing flows) and tactical (e.g. collaborative
planning, forecasting and replenishment, and outsourcing) (Childerhouse and Towill, 2011).
Therefore, the challenges faced by industrial SC networks are manifold. Some of the
real-life pressures include growing customer demands, inflexible global competition and the
need to improve the time to market of N/CPD (Murman et al., 2000; Molina et al., 2005;
De Brentani et al., 2010). All these challenges can be effectively dealt with if the information
exchange flow and communication network are effective and efficient. From the above

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