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Supply chain migration from lean and functional to agile and customised



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  • 1. What is agility? Research note Agility is a business-wide capability thatSupply chain migration embraces organisational structures,from lean and information systems, logistics processes and, in particular, mindsets. A key characteristic offunctional to agile and an agile organisation is flexibility. Indeed thecustomised origins of agility as a business concept lie in flexible manufacturing systems (FMS).Martin Christopher and Initially it was thought that the route to manufacturing flexibility was throughDenis R. Towill automation to enable rapid change (i.e. reduced set-up times) and thus a greater responsiveness to changes in product mix or volume. Later this idea of manufacturing flexibility was extended into the widerThe authors business context (Nagel and Dove, 1991) and the concept of agility as an organisationalMartin Christopher is Professor of Logistics at Cranfield orientation was born.School of Management, Cranfield University, Bedford, UK. Agility should not be confused withDenis R. Towill is Director of the Logistics Systems ``leanness. Lean is about doing more withDynamics Group, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK. less. The term is often used in connection with lean manufacturing (Womack et al.,Keywords 1990) to imply a ``zero inventory, just-in-Supply-chain management, Suppliers, time approach. In practice MinimumInformation management Reasonable Inventory (MRI) is a more relevant philosophy (Grunwald and Fortuin,Abstract 1992). Paradoxically, many companies that have adopted lean manufacturing as aShows how the lean and agile paradigms may be selected business practice are anything but agile inaccording to marketplace requirements. These aredistinctly different, since in the first case the market their supply chain. The car industry in manywinner is cost, whereas in the second case the market ways illustrates this conundrum. The originswinner is availability. Agile supply chains are required to of lean manufacturing can be traced to thebe market sensitive and hence nimble. This means that Toyota Production System (TPS) (Ohno,the definition of waste is different from that appropriate 1988), with its focus on the reduction andto lean supply. The proper location of decoupling points elimination of waste.for material flow and information flow enable a hybrid Whilst the lessons learned from the TPSsupply chain to be engineered. This encourages lean principles have had a profound impact on(efficient) supply upstream and agile (effective) supply manufacturing practices in a wide range ofdownstream, thus bringing together the best of both industries around the world, it seems that theparadigms. The paper concludes by proposing a cyclic tendency has been for the benefits of leanmigratory model which describes the PC supply chain thinking to be restricted to the factory. Thusattributes during its evolution from traditional to its we encounter the paradoxical situation wherepresent customised ``leagile operation. vehicle manufacture is extremely efficient with throughput time in the factory typically down to 12 hours or less, yet inventory ofElectronic access finished vehicles can be as high as two monthsThe current issue and full text archive of this journal is of sales. Furthermore, as Marshall Fisher (1997)available at has demonstrated in spite of advertising campaigns to the contrary, the customer still has to wait for weeks or even months to get the car of their choice! Whilst leanness may be an element of agility in certain circumstances, by itself it will notSupply Chain Management: An International JournalVolume 5 . Number 4 . 2000 . pp. 206±213 enable the organisation to meet the precise# MCB University Press . ISSN 1359-8546 needs of the customer more rapidly. Websters 206
  • 2. Supply chain migration Supply Chain Management: An International Journal Martin Christopher and Denis R. Towill Volume 5 . Number 4 . 2000 . 206±213Dictionary makes the distinction clearly when Figure 1 illustrates the crucial differences init defines lean as ``containing little fat focus between the lean and agile paradigmwhereas agile is defined as ``nimble. We need depending upon the market qualifiers and thean interpretation of these definitions which market winners based upon the work oftranslates into the supply chain scenario. A Mason-Jones et al. (2000).convenient interpretation of both paradigms One helpful model in taking these ideasis due to Naylor et al. (1999) as follows: forward is provided by Johansson et al. (1993) Agility means using market knowledge and a who sought to express the value delivery of a virtual corporation to exploit profitable business in terms of a simple equation: opportunities in a volatile marketplace. Quality  Service level Leanness means developing a value stream to Total value ˆ eliminate all waste, including time, and to enable Costs  LeadÀ time a level schedule. This equation is particularly helpful as itWe shall now further explore the emphasises the futility of improving onecommonalities and differences between these performance measure at the expense oftwo paradigms. The paper ends with a worsening another. Additionally it is possiblehistorical description of the transformation of via the four components of the equation tothe PC supply chain. From this the transition make a major distinction between lean andfrom ``traditional to ``lean and then ``agile agile supply in terms of the qualifiers ±may be clearly identified. winners concept as shown in Figure 1. Whereas quality, service level, and lead- time are market qualifiers for lean supply,Market qualifiers and market winners with the market winner then being cost, the latter benchmark is merely an importantHill (1993) has earlier developed the concept qualifier in agile supply. The market winnerof ``order qualifiers and ``order winners herein is service level because as Fisheragainst which it is advocated that (1997) has indicated, the total costs for themanufacturing strategy should be Product delivery process (PDP) are given by adetermined. As these labels suggest, it is further formula showing that:important for every business to understand Supply chain total PDP costs ˆwhat the baseline is for entering into a Physical PDP costs ‡ Marketability costscompetitive arena ± these are the ``orderqualifiers. To actually win the order requires where ``Physical costs includes allspecific capabilities and these Hill termed the production, distribution, and storage costs``order winners. The definition of order and ``Marketability costs includes allqualifiers and order winners then logically obsolescence and stockout costs.leads to the specification of the appropriate The first cost source (PDP) dominates leanmanufacturing strategy. supply whereas the second cost source We can borrow from these important ideas (marketability costs) dominates agile develop a wider supply chain oriented Note that lost sales are gone forever in theconcept of ``market qualifiers and ``market agile supply chain whether the cause is due towinners. The notion here is that to be truly stockouts or obsolescence. This is because itcompetitive requires not just the appropriatemanufacturing strategy, but rather an Figure 1 Market winners ± market qualifiers matrix for agile versusappropriate supply chain strategy. As lean supplyChristopher (1997) has pointed out ``it issupply chains that compete not companies. The connection between these ideas of``qualifiers and ``winners and ``lean and``agile is critical. At its simplest the leanparadigm is most powerful when the winningcriterion is cost; however, when service andcustomer value enhancement are primerequirements for market winning then thelikelihood is that agility will become thecritical dimension. 207
  • 3. Supply chain migration Supply Chain Management: An International Journal Martin Christopher and Denis R. Towill Volume 5 . Number 4 . 2000 . 206±213is an extremely harsh and competitive Table I Comparison of lean supply with agile supply: the distinguishingmarketplace with little brand loyalty. We shall attributesnow undertake a detailed comparison of lean Distinguishingand agile supply by comparing specific attributes Lean supply Agile supplyattributes which highlight the specificproblems to be overcome in enabling the Typical products Commodities Fashion goodsappropriate business strategy to be adopted. Marketplace demand Predictable Volatile Product variety Low High Product life cycle Long Short Customer drivers Cost AvailabilityAttributes of lean and agile supply Profit margin Low High Dominant costs Physical costs Marketability costsBoth agility and leanness demand high levels Stockout penalties Long term contractual Immediate and volatileof product quality. They also require Purchasing policy Buy goods Assign capacityminimum total lead-times defined as the time Information Highly desirable Obligatorytaken from a customer raising a request for a enrichmentproduct or service until it is delivered. Total Forecasting Algorithmic Consultativelead-time has to be minimised to enable mechanismagility, as demand is highly volatile and thusdifficult to forecast. If a supply chain has long Source: Mason-Jones et al. (2000)end-to-end lead-time then it will not be ableto respond quickly enough to exploitmarketplace demand. Furthermore effective chain is not merely desirable, but of cycle time reduction always This must be achieved in a process integrationleads to significant bottom line improvements scenario as we move towards the Seamlessin manufacturing costs and productivity Supply Chain (SSC) in which all ``players(Towill, 1996). think and act as one (Towill, 1997). Lead-time needs to be minimised in leanmanufacturing as by definition excess time iswaste and leanness calls for the elimination of Agile logisticsall waste. The essence of the differencebetween leanness and agility in terms of the As Table I suggests, to be truly agile a supplytotal value provided to the customer is that chain must possess a number ofservice is the critical factor calling for agility distinguishing characteristics. Firstly, thewhilst cost, and hence the sales price, is agile supply chain is market sensitive. Byclearly linked to leanness. However, whereas market sensitive we mean that the supplythe Total Cycle Time Compression Paradigm chain is capable of reading and responding to(Towill, 1996), when effectively real demand. Most organisations are forecast-implemented, is a sufficient condition for driven rather than demand-driven. In otherachieving lean production, it is only one words because they have little direct feed-necessary condition for enabling agile supply. forward from the marketplace by way of data Table I illustrates the comparison of on actual customer requirements they areattributes between lean and agile supply. In forced to make forecasts based upon past salesthe volatile unpredictable marketplace for or shipments and convert these forecasts into``fashion goods, both stockout andobsolescence costs are punitive. inventory. The breakthroughs of the lastConsequently the purchasing policy moves decade in the form of Efficient Consumerfrom placing orders upstream for products Response (ECR) and the use of informationmoving in a regular flow to that of assigning technology to capture data on demand directcapacity to finalise products in rapid response from the point-of-sale-use are nowmode. As Fisher et al. (1994) have indicated transforming the organisations ability to hearthis means forecasting via ``intelligent the voice of the market and to respondconsultation so as to maximise inputs from directly to it (Christopher, 1998a). The use of``rich marketplace insider sources. Mason- information technology to share data betweenJones and Towill (1997) argue that buyers and suppliers is, in effect, creating a``information enrichment, i.e. immediate virtual supply chain. Virtual supply chains aresharing of marketplace data throughout the information-based rather than inventory- 208
  • 4. Supply chain migration Supply Chain Management: An International Journal Martin Christopher and Denis R. Towill Volume 5 . Number 4 . 2000 . 206±213 based and lead to the structure suggested in commitment must prevail. Along with process Figure 2 (Harrison et al., 1999). integration comes joint strategy Conventional logistics systems are based determination, buyer-supplier teams, upon a paradigm that seeks to identify the transparency of information and even open- optimal quantities of inventory and its spatial book accounting. location. Many complex formulae and This idea of the supply chain as a algorithms exist to support this inventory- confederation of partners linked together as a based business model. Paradoxically, what we network provides the fourth ingredient of are now learning is that once we have visibility agility. There is a growing recognition that of demand through shared information, the individual businesses no longer compete as premise upon which these formulae are based stand-alone entities but rather as supply no longer holds. Electronic Data Interchange chains. We are now entering the era of (EDI) and now the Internet have enabled ``network competition where the prizes will partners in the supply chain to act upon the go to those organisations which can better same data, i.e. real demand, rather than be structure, co-ordinate and manage the dependent upon the distorted and noisy relationships with their partners in a network picture that emerges when orders are committed to better, closer and more agile transmitted from one step to another in an relationships with their final customers. It can extended chain (Hewitt, 1999). be argued that in todays challenging global Shared information between supply chain markets, the route to sustainable advantage partners can only be fully leveraged through lies in being able to leverage the respective process integration. By process integration is strengths and competencies of network meant collaborative working between buyers partners to achieve greater responsiveness to and suppliers, joint product development, market needs (Christopher, 1998b). common systems and shared information. This form of co-operation in the supply chain is becoming ever more prevalent as Seeking to obtain the best of both companies focus on managing their core worlds ± the role of the ``decoupling competencies and outsource all other point activities. In this new world a greater reliance on suppliers and alliance partners becomes A major problem in most supply chains is inevitable and, hence, a new style of their limited visibility of real demand. relationship is essential. In the ``extended Because supply chains tend to be extended enterprise as it is often called, there can be with multiple levels of inventory between the no boundaries and an ethos of trust and point of production and the final marketplace, they tend to be forecast driven rather thanFigure 2 The information based agile supply chain demand driven. The point at which real demand penetrates upstream in a supply chain may be termed the decoupling point and is the echelon at which market ``pull meets upstream ``push. Previously, this idea has been termed the ``order penetration point (Christopher, 1998b). However, the issue is not how far the order penetrates, but how far real demand is made visible. Orders are aggregations of demand, often delayed and distorted due to the actions and decisions of intermediaries (Burbidge, 1989). On the other hand, demand reflects the ongoing requirement in the final marketplace in as close to real-time as possible. The decoupling point separates that part of the supply chain geared towards directly satisfying customers orders from that part of the supply chain based on planning (Hoekstra and Romme, 1992). It should also dictate the 209
  • 5. Supply chain migration Supply Chain Management: An International Journal Martin Christopher and Denis R. Towill Volume 5 . Number 4 . 2000 . 206±213form in which inventory is held. Thus, in the enabling strategies of ``mass-customisationuppermost example in Figure 3, demand to be pursued.penetrates right to the point of manufacture An important point to recognise is that inand inventory is probably held in the form of real-world supply chains there are actuallycomponents or materials. In the lower two decoupling points. The first is the oneexample, demand is only visible at the end of already referred to, i.e. the ``materialthe chain. Hence inventory will be in the form decoupling point where strategic inventory isof finished product. The aim of the agile held in as generic a form as possible. Thissupply chain should be to carry inventory in point ideally should lie as far downstream inas generic a form as possible that is, standard the supply chain and as close to the finalsemi-finished products awaiting final marketplace as possible. The secondassembly or localisation. This is the concept decoupling point is the ``informationof ``postponement, a vital element in any decoupling point. The idea here is that thisagile strategy. Postponement, or delayed should lie as far as possible upstream in theconfiguration, is based on the principle of supply chain ± it is in effect the furthest pointseeking to design products using common to which information on real final demandplatforms, components or modules but where penetrates. Mason-Jones and Towill (1997)the final assembly or customisation does not have demonstrated through simulation thetake place until the final market destination beneficial impact that information feedbackand/or customer requirement is known. can have on reducing upstream amplification The advantages of the strategy of and distortion of demand. By managing thesepostponement are several (Van Hoek, 1998). two decoupling points a powerful opportunityFirstly, inventory can be held at a generic level for agile response can be created. At the sameso that there will be fewer stock-keeping time the notorious ``bullwhip or Forrestervariants and hence less inventory in total. effect (Forrester, 1961) can be reduced.Secondly, because the inventory is generic, its Billington and Amaral (1999) suggest that theflexibility is greater, meaning that the same combined effect of shared information in acomponents, modules or platforms can be supply chain and delayed configurationembodied in a variety of end products. through postponement can significantlyThirdly, forecasting is easier at the generic improve responsiveness. Furthermore alevel than at the level of the finished item. separate study has shown that the effect ofThis latter point is particularly relevant in optimal delayed configuration is actually evenglobal markets where local forecasts will be greater than the impact created by sharedless accurate than a forecast for world-wide information (Gavireni and Tayur, 1997).volume. Furthermore, the ability to customise Hence the fundamental importance ofproducts locally means that a higher level of product design on agile supply chainvariety may be offered at lower total cost, performance.Figure 3 Material flow decoupling points and strategic inventory 210
  • 6. Supply chain migration Supply Chain Management: An International Journal Martin Christopher and Denis R. Towill Volume 5 . Number 4 . 2000 . 206±213The personal computer supply chain Thus customer orders are satisfied by an agile execution-based, direct model drivenThe challenge to supply chain management is business operation without any finishedto seek to develop ``lean strategies up to the inventory. One way Dell Computer beats itsmaterial decoupling point but ``agile competitors on prices is by also keepingstrategies beyond that point. In other words component inventories to a using generic or modular inventory to Vertical integration has helped the companypostpone the final commitment it should be further reduce costs. Monitors, for example,possible to achieve volume-oriented are relatively standardised and built by aneconomies of scale through product agile supplier. So today Dell may need asstandardisation. The flow of product up to many as 8,752 monitors from the supplier;the decoupling point may well be forecast tomorrow they might need as few as 962. Onedriven; after the decoupling point it should be of their carriers simply picks the monitors updemand driven. A good practical example is at night, matches them up with the PCs byto be found in the PC supply chain. This has purchase order, and the next day deliversbeen well documented during its various them to the customers. The rule on workingphases of development, including the with suppliers is to keep it simple, with fewerHewlett-Packard (Lee and Sasser, 1995; than 40 vendors providing 90 per cent ofDavies, 1993), IBM (Beal, 1988; Laurent, material needs. This justifies close working1992) and Dell (Dell and Fedman, 1999) relationships and reduces cost and furthersupply chains. Relevant generic models speeds up new products to market. A financialdescribing dynamic behaviour according to analysis showed that ``supplier proximitythe various stages of re-engineering such PC pays. Hence as Dell became a globalsupply chains have also been verified manufacturer their preferred suppliers were(Hiebeler et al., 1998). expected to follow suit. Dell in particular has become the master of Fast feedback from customers enables Dellthe vertical distribution channel by being the suppliers to rapidly change product mix and maintain their inventory velocity. To makesole distributor of its products and services the required breakthrough on supply strategy,(Dell and Fedman, 1999). A customer Dell shares its goals and objectives withinitiates the sales process by contacting the suppliers. By shipping as required (hourly orcompany via telephone or the Internet. There daily depending on the product), Dell hasare three ways of selling: face-to-face; ear-to- bought more components and assembliesear; and keyboard-to-server. A customer can from the suppliers faster and paid themorder from Dell on-line 24 hours a day or by quicker, so everyone benefits. The companyphone from early morning until late in the has totally integrated the distribution channelevening. A Dell representative is available to by clearly identifying its markets and bymake suggestions and help customers designing products and services to fit thedetermine what systems will best meet their needs of its customers. Hence the directneeds. Through the Web site, customers can contact with customers gives Dell minute-by-access product information and receive price minute input from the largest customer downestimates instantaneously. Dell then confirms to the individual purchaser in terms of whatthe order and verifies the financial credit products they want and what new servicescharge. Usually the representative promises they would like to see Dell develop. Thisthat the computer will arrive within five information on present demand and futurebusiness days although the customer often requirements is shared with Dell suppliers in areceives the product quicker than this. The real-world example of effective supply chainDell factory receives a printout of the order partnering and is a key enabler in achievingand begins manufacturing within hours. Each is customer-built and put throughseveral hardware and software tests in lessthan one day. After a final inspection the Migratory model summarising thecomputer is boxed by Dell and sent to a transition in PC supply chain operationsdistribution centre that ships it by carrier intime to arrive with a monitor that is built In proposing the four key business metrics ofahead of time by a separate supplier. quality; lead-time; cost; and availability, 211
  • 7. Supply chain migration Supply Chain Management: An International Journal Martin Christopher and Denis R. Towill Volume 5 . Number 4 . 2000 . 206±213Johannson et al. (1993) also argued that their sense of not responding to specific needs.relative importance changes with time. The Then came the era enabled by correctimplication of this is that companies positioning of the material flow de-couplingcontinually need to adjust their supply chain point in the particular hybrid lean-agilestrategy. Hence periodically a new market supply chain termed ``leagile by Naylor et al.winner emerges and downgrades the previous (1999). This chain is agile enough to respondmarket winner to a market qualifier. This to what is actually selling with availability ascyclical interchange is clearly related to the market winner. Finally, as instanced byinitial emergence of the lean paradigm present-day Dell we have the customisedfollowed later where appropriate by the agile leagile supply chain. By further streamliningparadigm. the supply chain front end, Dell supplies Thus in the early stage of a market it is often exactly what the individual customer selects.the lean paradigm that prevails for example, Lead time is now the market winner with athe Model T Ford enabling market maximum of seven days allowed for pullingpenetration to be achieved on the basis of a off the requisite sub-assemblies, finalising the``penetration pricing policy (i.e. low cost PC, adding the exact peripherals, packaging,production). As the market matures and and delivery to the individual customer. It isdemands for higher levels of variety grow then clearly at the supply chain front-end wherethe agile paradigm replaces it. Thus Ford in spare capacity must be reserved againstthe 1980s and 1990s offered a theoretical ten particular nimble product requirementsmillion plus combinations of models andoptions. Now, however, as we enter the thirdmillennium we see the emergence of global Conclusionssupply chain strategies in which Ford seeks toachieve local differentiation whilst at the same The lean paradigm requires that ``fat betime standardising by common ``platforms. eliminated. However the agile paradigm mustThis is the era of hybrid lean/agile strategies be ``nimble since sales lost are gone forever.or what may conveniently be referred to as the An important difference is that lean supply is``leagile model (Naylor et al., 1999). associated with level scheduling, whereas agile These ideas may be brought together in the supply means reserving capacity to cope withmigratory model shown in Table II volatile demand. Whereas information(Murakoshi, 1994). Thus in the early 1980s transparency is desirable in a lean regime, it isthe market winner was quality, which for obligatory for agility. Lean forecasting isWestern industry was needed to combat algorithmic, but agile forecasting requiresJapanese imports, and was achieved within shared information on current demandthe lean internal process scenario. This was captured as close to the marketplace asfollowed by the implementation of the lean possible. Real world supply chains are cyclicalsupply chain impacting on cost, but still in character. This means that this yearspushing products onto the marketplace in the market winner is next years market qualifier.Table II Migratory model summarising the transition in PC supply chain operationsSupply chainevolution phase I II III IVSupply chain time Early 1980s Late 1980s Early 1990s Late 1990smarkerSupply chain Product driven Market orientated Market driven Customer drivenphilosophySC type Lean functional silos Lean supply chain Leagile supply chain Customised leagile supply chainMarket winner Quality Cost Availability Lead timeMarket qualifiers (a) Cost (a) Availability (a) Lead time (a) Quality (b) Availability (b) Lead time (b) Quality (b) Cost (c) Lead time (c) Quality (c) Cost (c) AvailabilityPerformance metrics (a) Stock turns (a) Throughput time (a) Market share (a) Customer satisfaction (b) Production cost (b) Physical cost (b) Total cost (b) Value added 212
  • 8. Supply chain migration Supply Chain Management: An International Journal Martin Christopher and Denis R. Towill Volume 5 . Number 4 . 2000 . 206±213Hence lean chains are under pressure to of the 4th International Symposim: In thebecome agile, and in some markets, such as Information Age, Florence, pp. 785-90. Hiebeler, R., Kelly, T.B. and Ketteman, C. (1998), Bestthe personal computer, further pressure to Practices: Building Your Business with Customer-become customised. As we have seen from the focused Solutions, Simon & Schuster, New York,migratory model, the challenges during each NY.transition are significantly different. Hill, T. (1993), Manufacturing Strategy: Text and Cases, 2nd ed., Macmillan, London. Hoekstra, S. and Romme, J. (1992), Integrated Logistics Structures: Developing Customer Oriented GoodsReferences Flow, McGraw-Hill, London. Johansson, H.J., McHugh, P., Pendlebury, A.J. andBeal, K. (1988), ``Integrated material logistics and Wheeler, W.A. (1993), Business Process continuous flow manufacturing, Int. Jnl. Prod. Res., Reengineering: Breakpoint Strategies for Market Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 351-73. Dominance, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.Billington, C. and Amaral, J. (199), ``Investing in product Laurent, C. (1992), ``Time-based logistics, symposium design to maximise profitability through paper published by IBM, Paris. postponement, in Andersen, D. (Ed.), Achieving Lee, H. and Sasser, M. (1995), ``Product universality and Supply Chain Excellence Through Technology, design for supply chain management, International Montgomery Research, San Francisco, CA. Journal of Production Planning and Control, Vol. 6Burbidge, J. (1989), Production Flow Analysis, Oxford No. 3, pp. 270-7. University Press, Oxford. Mason-Jones, R. and Towill, D.R. (1997), ``InformationChristopher, M., (1997), Marketing Logistics, Butterworth- enrichment: designing the supply chain for Heinemann, Oxford. competitive advantage, Supply ChainChristopher, M. (1998a), Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 137-48. Management, Pitmans, London. Mason-Jones, R., Naylor, J.B. and Towill, D.R. (2000),Christopher, M. (1998b), ``Relationships and alliances: ``Engineering the leagile supply chain, International embracing the era of network competition, in Journal of Agile Management Systems, to be Gattorna, J. (Ed.), Strategic Supply Chain Alignment, published. Gower Press, Aldershot. Murakoshi, T. (1994), ``Customer-driven manufacturing inDavies. T. (1993), ``Effective supply chain management, Japan, International Journal of Production Sloan Management Review, Summer, pp 35-45. Economics, Vol. 37, pp. 63-72.Dell, M. and Fedman, C. (1999), Direct from Dell: Nagel, R. and Dove, R. (1991), 21st Century Strategies that Revolutionised an Industry, Harper Manufacturing Enterprise Strategy, Incocca Collins, London. Institute, Lehigh University.Fisher, M. (1997), ``What is the right supply chain for your Naylor, J.B., Naim, M.M. and Berry, D. (1997), ``Leagility: product?, Harvard Business Review, March/April. interfacing the lean and agile manufacturingFisher, M.L., Hammond, J.H., Obermeyer, W.R. and paradigm in the total supply chain, International Raman, J. (1994), ``Making supply meet demand in Journal of Production Economics, Vol. 62, an uncertain world, Harvard Business Review, pp. 107-18. May/June, pp. 83-93. Ohno, T. (1988), The Toyota Production System; BeyondForrester, J. (1961), Industrial Dynamics, MIT Press, Large Scale Production, Productivity Press, Cambridge, MA. Portland, OR.Gavireni, S. and Tayur, S. (1997), ``Delayed product Towill, D.R. (1996), ``Time compression and supply chain differentiation versus information sharing, working management a guided tour, Supply Chain paper, Graduate School of Industrial Administration, Management, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 15-27. Carnegie Mellon University, August. Towill, D.R. (1997), ``The seamless supply chain theGrunwald, H.T. and Fortuin, L. (1992), ``Many steps predators strategic advantage, International towards zero inventory, European Journal of Journal of Technology Management, Vol. 13 No. 1, Operational Research, Vol. 59, pp. 359-69. pp. 37-56.Harrison, A., Christopher, M. and van Hoek, R. (1999), Van Hoek, R. (1998), ``Reconfiguring the supply chain ``Creating the agile supply chain, School of to implement postponed manufacturing, Management Working Paper, Cranfield University, International Journal of Logistics Management, Cranfield. Vol. 9 No. 1.Hewitt, F. (1999), ``Supply or demand? Chains or Womack, J., Jones, D. and Roos, D. (1990), The Machine pipelines? Co-ordination or control?, Proceedings that Change the World, Macmillan, New York, NY. 213