This chapter provides a discussion on general issues in the analysis of supply networks. We will discuss the problems that arise when the assumption of perfect knowledge is not met because uncertainty is present. The discussion is based on the idea that the production stages and the inventory locations are part of a large supply network which can be considered with different aggregation levels. From a very detailed point of view each activity area (i. e. workplace) is considered as a node in a network of collaborating subsystems within a factory. From a more aggregate perspective each production department (production segment), comprising multiple activity areas, is modeled as a node while the supply network comprises production departments (production nodes) and inventory locations (inventory nodes). These nodes co-operate in the production and logistical processing of products, starting with the raw material warehouse (which is an inventory node) and moving on over the different production departments (production nodes) downstream to the inventory node where the end products are stored. Assuming a still higher integrated perspective, the complete value-adding process from ”the suppliers of the suppliers to the customers of the customers”, the supply network comprising several companies (suppliers, the focused company, retailers, and end customers) is included in the analysis.
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Sources of uncertainty as well as issues regarding the modeling of the time axis are discussed. Particular emphasis is put on the performance measurement of inventory systems with the help of different service level definitions and customer waiting times.