- As co-founder of the Master’s degree course in Logistics at Paris Dauphine University, you are an expert in quantitative method applied to the supply chain field. Could you outline this discipline and its strengths?
Quantitative decision-support methods are not exclusive to the supply chain, they cover a wide range of areas such as finance, business (e.g.: revenue management), production management (in agriculture and industry), human resources, marketing, psychology and imaging.
Its contribution is based on modelling the issues faced. The model, which by force is a schematic and partial representation of reality, must be able to illustrate the structural relations between what we call decision variables and the economic or physical outcomes of those decisions.
In the case of supply chains, construction of this model groups and formalizes their characteristic data. This is significant because companies’ information systems are essentially geared to deal with business or technical data and rarely to logistics data… the upstream (procurement) and downstream (distribution) interface are even less likely to be factored in. Furthermore, the model enables simulation and when relevant criteria are defined, various decisions can be optimized. Also in the current context of uncertainty, modelling can gauge the consequences of environmental modifications (energy cost, environmental constraints, technological developments and so forth).
- You work regularly with the Eurodecision’s Supply Chain Advisory Center. How did this partnership come about?
I met the founders of Eurodecision when they set up the business and in particular Eric Jacquet-Lagrèze who was a colleague of mine at Paris Dauphine University. I recall that as I was working as a consulting engineer, I brought them one of their first mathematical optimization studies in the cement-manufacturing sector which was already tackling the issue of energy saving.
- Could you give us some examples of some assignments that you have worked on with our team?
I have worked on network upstream and downstream and architecture optimization issues in the energy (Totalgaz, Total Lubrifiants), major retail distribution (Intermarché, Décathlon), chemicals (Air Liquide, Roquette) and transport (DHL, Brink’s) sectors… and also on production scheduling and stock management issues.
- What do you particularly like about this approach that brings business experts and optimization specialists together today?
As I said at the beginning, it’s analyzing the issue and translating it into a model… finding the balance between complexity and reality and having to simplify in order to reach a solution, without overlooking the structuring characteristics of the business in question. Let’s face it, the procurement constraints of a car plant and those of a dairy product plant have very little in common!
Pour en savoir plus, nous vous invitons à lire les ouvrages écrit par Philippe Vallin et en particulier : « La Logistique – Le pilotage de la Supply Chain » et « Comment optimiser les approvisionnements » parus aux Editions Economica. A découvrir dans notre Bibliothèque Idéale !