Project: Supply Chain Vulnerabilities

Reference: RHS 0104

Last update: 15/10/2003 17:26:09


The robustness of supply networks is recognised as being critical both for individual organisations and for the economy as a whole. The purpose of this project then is to examine the business requirement, the state of knowledge, the tools that may be appropriate and "best", or "current", practice in the supply chain vulnerability area.


Modern supply chains are very complex, with many parallel physical and information flows occurring in order to ensure that products are delivered in the right quantities, to the right place in a cost effective manner. The shift towards leaner supply networks during recent years has resulted in these networks becoming more vulnerable. In particular, there often tends to be very little inventory in the system to "buffer" any interruptions in supply and, therefore, any disruptions can have a rapid impact on the supply network.


Heriot-Watt University
UNILINK Unit, Technology and Research Services, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS
+44 (0)131 451 3071

Cranfield University
The Cranfield Centre for Logistics and Transportation, Cranfield, Bedford, MK43 OAL
01234 751122

Business Continuity Institute
PO Box 4474, Worcester , WR6 5YA
0870 603 8783

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £59,625.00

Actual start date: 21 May 2001

Actual completion date: 31 January 2002


Supply Chain Vulnerabilities
Author: Cranfield University
Publication date: 30/01/2002

Supply Chain Vulnerabilities - Executive Summary
Author: Cranfield University
Publication date: 30/01/2002

Summary of results

  1. Key findings from the research revealed:

    1. Supply chain vulnerabilities is an important business issue.
    2. Little research hasbeen taken into supply chain vulnerabilities.
    3. Awareness of the subject is poor.
    4. There is a need for a methodology for managing supply chain vulnerabilities.

    A number of factors that contribute to the supply chain vulnerabilities were found which included:
    1. A focus on efficiency rather than effectiveness.
    2. The globalisation of supply chain.
    3. Focussed factories and centralised distribution.
    4. The trend to out sourcing.
    5. Reduction in the supplier base.
    6. Volatility of demand.
    7. Lack of transparency and control procedures.