PITA Fiscal Year 2008 Projects - Product and Process Design and Optimization

Network Optimization For A Confectionary Supply Chain

This project concerns the design and management of the supply chain of Just Born, a Bethlehem, PA-based candy manufacturer. The central questions addressed in this research project are: (1) how many pool points (distribution centers) Just Born should use nationwide, (2) where these pool points should be located, (3) which customers should be served by pool points and which should be shipped to directly, and (4) how a proposed consolidation of freight with other candy companies, to be spearheaded by Just Born, would affect the optimal pool-point locations and the efficiency of the supply chain as a whole. We will formulate mathematical programming models to describe this problem and develop an algorithm to find near-optimal solutions. Our research will streamline Just Born’s current distribution strategy. It also has the potential to bring significant new distribution business to Pennsylvania by providing analytical tools to support Just Born’s proposal to consolidate freight with other candy companies who do not currently maintain distribution operations in the state. In addition, our models will refine and enhance current facility location/network design models and will be broadly generalizable, thereby contributing to the current academic research on these topics. This project also contains a significant educational component that consists of (1) graduate and undergraduate student involvement, (2) development of an Engineering 5 module based on Just Born’s supply chain, and (3) a series of short courses to be taught at Just Born by Lehigh faculty.