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University of Exeter Business School

Supply Chain Analytics

Module titleSupply Chain Analytics
Module codeBEMM783
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Stephen Disney (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The dynamic and economic performance of supply chains is driven by their lead-times, forecasting, and production activities. Poorly managed supply chains result in an expensive dynamic effect called the bullwhip effect.  The bullwhip effect causes inefficiencies in terms of increased inventory holding and costs, poor customer service levels, and the inefficient use of production capacity. We will cover a wide range of topics, such as: Dynamic value stream mapping and time series analysis; Understanding your supply chain in relation to inventory, service levels, and capacity costs; Forecasting for production and distribution in supply chains; Setting the cadence of your production pacemaker; Detailed scheduling at the shop floor; Communicating replenishment orders with suppliers.


This module is suitable for non-specialist and interdisciplinary students. Although this module is based on real world applications of research, no industrial experience or high-level maths is required (although some basic mathematical and computer skills, mostly Excel-based, are required).


Students who are able to successfully apply this knowledge in practice will allow companies to reduce over-time working, reduce inventory investments and improve customer service levels.  They will be a able to create a stable working environment in supply chains so that companies have the time to undertake maintenance activities, creating a virtuous cycle of improvement.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to give students an understanding of how the structure of supply chains (their lead-times forecasting methods and replenishment rules) drives their dynamic behaviour.  We will learn to couple select lean production techniques with industrial engineering, forecasting and computer Simulation techniques to understand, document and improve the dynamic behaviour of supply chains.


This module is based on the bullwhip research archived at and casework completed with Tesco, HP, Yeo Valley, and Lexmark. The proven methodology also aligns with ideas and concepts from the Lean Production philosophy.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Apply concepts and theories to understand and control the dynamics of a supply chain;
  • 2. Critically analyse contemporary lean production techniques issues to understand their impact on operations and supply chain management practice;
  • 3. Discuss emerging tools, techniques and practices in lean production;
  • 4. Discuss the implications of contemporary developments in operations and supply chain management for how we live & work;
  • 5. Propose detailed, well-evidenced and integrated practice in all areas of operations and supply chain management;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Critically evaluate the impact of supply chain dynamics on the firm and wider global environment;
  • 7. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of how to measure and monitor the dynamic performance of supply chains;
  • 8. Effectively utilise information & data in operations and supply chain management to support organisational decision making;
  • 9. Reflect upon recent changes in the global environment and how this may impact on how operations are managed in future.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Systems outlook. By considering a supply chain/value stream as a system, students will be able to understand how their decisions may have consequences in different companies, in different countries, many weeks into the future.
  • 11. Evidence based decision-making. Students will be able to collect and interpret data before making scientifically robust decisions on that data.
  • 12. Integrative knowledge user. Students will become skilled at integrating knowledge from diverse fields such as industrial engineering, lean production, supply chain management, computer simulation, statistics, and control theory.
  • 13. Visual communicator. Student will learn how to document and understand a large dynamic system using visual tools such as Value Stream Maps and communicate replenishment decisions using techniques such as Heijunka boards, Gantt charts, and MRP schedules.

Syllabus plan

  • Dynamic value stream mapping to identify Mura and Muri. Bullwhip, Net Stock Amplification, Fill-rates.
  • Strategies for responding to customer demand: Pull, Level, Forecast, Batch, Order-up-to, Proportional Order-up-to.
  • Forecasting for supply chain replenishment: Naïve forecasts, Exponential smoothing, Holt’s method, Damped Trend.  Forecast measures of performance.
  • Using the planning book to set production and distribution targets: Calculating production targets and Safety stocks, Coping with demand, process, and supply uncertainty.
  • Detailed scheduling and communicating the plan to the shop floor: SMED and product wheels, Heijunka, short interval control.
  • Ordering from your suppliers and issuing future guidance.  Bill of materials, Materials requirement planning (MRP), MRP nervousness, Vendor managed inventory.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Lectures11Whole cohort lectures
Seminar10Small group tutorials
Self-study108Guided self-study
Assessment21Assignment/exam preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Multiple choice questions on ELEELE will host a series of MCQ that will be revealed each week to assess learning progress1-13Via ELE

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual assignment302000 words1-13Individual feedback via BART. Cohort feedback via ELE
Individual exam702 hours1-13Individual feedback via BART. Cohort feedback via ELE

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual AssignmentIndividual Assignment1-13August exam period
Individual ExamIndividual Exam1-13August exam period

Re-assessment notes

Students who are required to be reassessed will be offered a reassessment for all failed components in the August resit period (for Referrals), or will be reassessed with the following cohort (for Deferrals).

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

•   Disney, S.M. (2022) “Setting the cadence of your pacemaker: A lean workbook for reducing Muda”,
•   S.M. Disney, M.R. Lambrecht (2008). On replenishment rules, forecasting, and the Bullwhip effect in supply chains. Foundations and Trends(R) in Technology, Information and Operations Management, 2 (1), 1–80.
•   X. Wang, S.M. Disney (2016). The bullwhip effect: progress, trends and directions. European Journal of Operational Research, 250 (3), 691–701.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

•   ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages
•   Example interactive web pages that illustrate the concepts of this course can be found at and  

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Other materials will be hosted on ELE as required.

Key words search

Supply Chain Analytics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date