National Science Foundation
University of Louisville
Two new key technologies are becoming increasingly implemented in many manufacturing and distribution companies. Although the first technology, radio frequency identification (RFID), is based on principles that have been applied for a few decades now (e.g., use of radio frequencies in airline control and communication systems), it has generated substantial interest on the part of industry primarily due to two mandates – one from the private sector (Wal-Mart) and another from the public sector (Department of Defense – DoD). The second technology – Global Positioning Systems (GPS) – has also been heavily deployed in many sectors of our industry. Many manufacturers have adopted the technologies (especially RFID) more because of mandate than choice. As a result, many companies use the two technologies for simple functions such as product tagging and tracing, providing distribution visibility to customers (for example, allowing customers track a shipment as it moves through the supply chain) and have not quite determined how to benefit from them. It is our belief, however, that the real-time information provided by these two systems can be effectively used to design and operate logistical systems on a real-time basis in direct response to new, constantly changing information that is being supplied by the two technologies. The structure of a real-time decision support system is illustrated in Figure 1. In this proposal, we propose to tackle some of the important strategic, intermediate and
tactical level problems faced in the design and operation of next generation logistical systems.