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Manuscript deadline
01 May 2021

Cover image - Production Planning & Control

Production Planning & Control

Special Issue Editor(s)

Chunguang April Bai, School of Management and Economics, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, China
[email protected]

Joseph Sarkis, Foisie Business School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA
[email protected]

Weili Xue, School of Economics and Management, Southeast University, China
[email protected]

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Industry experiences of blockchain and operational efficiency and effectiveness

Industrial systems face enormous complexity featuring the need to consider various stakeholder requirements, a broad variety of objectives, an increased set of operational practices and technologies, and greater relationships among those entities (Bai and Sarkis, 2018). These complexities make transactional tracking, tracing, and verifying inventory, purchases, invoices, bills of lading, deliveries and receipts challenging. This tracing and verification can be utilized for a number of reasons, financial, scheduling, legal, and reputational, to name a few.

The advent of distributed ledger technology and blockchains has been viewed as a panacea for addressing these challenges. The emergent technology can potentially achieve substantial cost and efficiency benefits, while alleviating difficulties associated with reconciliation, miscommunication and poor contract enforcement. These are the promises.

Blockchain technology is a central technology in the latest round of technological innovation and industrial transformation for operations, production and supply chains. Various efforts to lead the race for development in industry are occurring – across industries and regions. Worldwide, the deployment of blockchain technology in various applications has seen increased interest; ranging from a leapfrogging technology for developing countries to unprecedented transparency opportunities in developed countries and their supply chains. Yet many questions remain about whether or how these blockchain applications can effectively directly or indirectly affect the operational performance of industrial systems (Saberi et al., 2019). The promise is moderated by a variety of barriers; technological, organizational, regulatory, and economical.

Industry has initiated various industrial applications such as grid transactions, financing and transparency in supply chains. The applications and creativity associated with them have grown.  Over the years, industries have experienced rapid innovation – for example consumer electronics, automotive, aerospace, pharmaceuticals and logistics. Research to promote and deeply integrate blockchain technology with various industrial systems is occurring, to achieve operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Operational excellence is a broad term and may include cost, quality, time, innovation, relationships, and flexibility. Operational efficiency and effectiveness can be achieved through data sharing, optimizing business processes with smart contracts, reducing operating costs, enhanced security and efficiency, improving collaborative efficiency and building a trustless system. Operational problems such as communication errors with internal and external partners, risk management and governmental regulatory supervision can be mitigated. This efficiency can go beyond business, but also into social and sustainability dimensions.

Blockchain applications can play a larger role in improving operational efficiency and effectiveness, while advancing economic and social development. More research, based on practice, can be made to strengthen basic research to understand how to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness through those blockchain applications; and whether it is even necessary or possible. Managers and practitioners can benefit from theoretical contributions and innovative business frameworks for adopting blockchain applications, especially when seeking to upscale operational activities and performance.

Blockchain is occurring in various industry systems related to evolving technological solutions enabling new forms of production, novel models of logistics external to organizations as well as new relationships between the firm, its partners and the market. Firms are now exploring the application of blockchains to cope with industrial challenges and to sustain their competitive advantages. To reap the benefits of this revolution, countries have even adopted policies. For example, the Chinese government has made an announcement to introduce policy that encourages Blockchain application. However, implementing a blockchain will be an incremental journey over several years that will include changing the existing operation mode. Therefore, at this stage, we need to collect real cases and practical experience, summarize this experience and identify existing problems to support better application and develop blockchain standards in the future.

This special issue seeks to advance understanding on the joint evolution of blockchain applications and operational excellence issues and their relationships. We seek contributions on the development of blockchain applications in supporting the transitioning of organizations and industries and upscaling to broader operational performance and its many dimensions. We are committed to answer the crucial questions related to blockchain—from what the blockchain in operation concept represents, to the challenges, benefits and ways to implement blockchain application to gain operational efficiency and effectiveness.

We invite original manuscripts from scholars, academicians, industry practitioners, and engineers to disseminate new knowledge and share expertise in improving operational efficiency and effectiveness through blockchain applications in academia and industry.

Submitted manuscripts and studies may include both theoretical and original and survey studies; but must be ingrained in practice and evolve from practical concerns, issues, and outcomes.  State-of-the-art, requirements, fundamental theories, frameworks, case studies/stories, field experiences, standardization efforts, regulatory activities, education and training innovations are all welcome. All industry application areas are welcome: aeronautics and astronautics, agriculture, automotive, building, construction, energy, finance, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, process industry, power, transportation, etc.

Potential Topics for the Special Issue include, but are not limited to the following:

  • New theory, middle-range theory, and models for Blockchain applications in operation processes.
  • New trends in and options for the applications of Blockchain in industry for improving operational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Blockchain applications for improving emergent operational dimensions in flexibility, collaboration, dynamism, transparency, relational capabilities and innovation performance.
  • Contradictory and unexpected outcomes and relationships, as blockchain applications may upset some aspects of operational performance, especially in practice.
  • Linkage of blockchain to organization and supply chain systems for operational excellence including legacy technologies such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to systemic organizational practices such as total quality management (TQM), just-in-time (JIT), and lean systems.
  • Link or integrate different Industry 4.0 technologies in the broad area of blockchain applications for improving operational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Link or integrate different application areas of blockchain in industry for improving operational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • The limitations of blockchainin an industry for improving operational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Novel and inventive applications of blockchain in various fields (e.g., research, healthcare, life sciences, manufacturing, transportation, or retail).
  • The relationship between blockchain operational effectiveness, efficiency and resilience, especially in crisis situations.

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Submission Instructions

Please make sure the correct Special Issue title is selected when submitting.

Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor be currently under consideration for publication elsewhere. Papers will undergo at robust single-blind, developmental review as per the standard review process followed by Production Planning & Control.  Final acceptance of approved papers will depend on incorporating reviewers’ feedback to the satisfaction of the Guest Editors and Editor.

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