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Models and tools for the optimization of circularity in supply chains

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The research project CIRCULAR is offering PhD thesis on :
- Models and tools for the optimization of circularity in supply chains at grenoble Alpes University, G-SCOP Laboratory

- SUBJECT DESCRIPTION :
Circular economy is defined as “an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design, which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles” (MacArthur, 2013). According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which works on the transition to this new approach, the circular economy has three principles : 1) design out waste and pollution ; 2) keep products and materials in use and 3) regenerate natural systems (MacArthur, 2013).
This new approach requires some changes throughout supply chains (Smol et al., 2015 ; Habibi et al., 2017), which are critical on the performance of the whole organization (Chandoul et al. 2009 ; Habibi et al., 2017 ; Govindan et al., 2018). The existing literature does not define the link between supply chains and the circular economy concept (Homrich et al., 2018). New researches are needed, starting from the implementations of the circular economy principles and the impact of these implementations on supply chain management (Geissdoerfer et al., 2017 ; Govindan et al., 2018)

The purpose of this PhD is to contribute to the research area stated above by firstly, investigating the actors, the activities, the requirements and the performance indicators of a circular supply chain by a literature review. Then, it aims at proposing new models, methods and tools for managing and evaluating the transition to circular supply chains.
More precisely, one of the main goals of the PhD is to develop models and tools that are able to simulate and optimize the supply chains processes in the context of circular economy. The first objective is to identify indicators allowing measuring circularity in a supply chain management process. The second objective is to propose models and tools to help to evaluate these indicators and improve circularity conditions in a supply chain management process. We will propose a method, models and tools to analyze, diagnose and evaluate existing supply chains and identify possible evolutions and optimizations to introduce and support circularity in supply chains. The proposed method will be based on continuous evolution cycles (Cortes-Cornax et al., 2016). It will allow the organizations’ actors to be implied in the supply chain process as well as to be autonomous and collectively implied in the propositions of evolutions of the supply chain. The proposed evolutions should be aligned with the new issues brought by circular strategies, in particular, the distribution of the products and the locality of reproduction. In that sense, the method will combine participative and ludic techniques and formal simulation models in order to analyze, diagnose and evaluate both the performance of the supply chain and the production process itself. The method will be applied and validated in the industrial case of the CIRCULAR project.
In the long term, the proposed method will have to :
1) Ensure a good functional coverage, allowing to analyze, diagnose and evaluate traditional supply chains processes under the context of circular economy, identify blocking points in the context of circular economy and propose possible solutions to progressively migrate from a traditional supply chain to a circular supply chain,
2) Propose continuous evolution cycles and allow the actors of the organizations implied in the supply chain processes, to be autonomous and collectively implied in the propositions of evolutions of the supply chain. The evolutions should be aligned with the new issues brought by circular economy, in particular, the distribution of the products and the reuse location. Participative approaches, simple end-users languages and ludic tools will be privileged (Front et al., 2015).
3) Combine and confront results issued from simulation models (discrete event simulation models for example) and end-users modeling sessions.
Expected results :
- T0+12 : State-of-the-art on indicators and models to evaluate circularity conditions in supply chains. Scaling of the case study. First version of pertinent indicators evaluated on the case study.
- T0+24 : First version of the method allowing analysis, diagnosis and evaluation of existing supply chains. First version of the method applied on the case study.
- T0+36 : Final version of the method allowing proposition of evolutions of existing supply chains considering circularity. Method applied on the industrial case of the project. Method deployed on the common platform.

For further information please download the thesis file

Models and tools for the optimization of circularity in supply chains