Agent-based modeling of supply chains for distributed scheduling

S. K.Lau Jason, George Q. Huang, K. L. Mak

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


This paper considers a supply chain that comprises multiple independent and autonomous enterprises (project managers) that seek and select various contractors to complete operations of their project. Both the project managers and contractors jointly determine the schedules of their operations while no single enterprise has complete information of other enterprises. The centralized scheduling approach that can usually obtain good global performance but must share nearly complete information that is difficult or even impractical due to the distributed nature of real-life supply chains. This paper proposes an agent-based supply chain model to support distributed scheduling. A modified contract-net protocol (MCNP) is proposed to enable more information sharing among the enterprises than conventional CNP. Experimental simulation studies are conducted to compare and contrast the performances of the centralized [centralized heuristic (CTR)], conventional CNP, and MNCP approaches. The results show that MCNP outperforms CNP and performs comparably with CTR when project complexity is high in terms of the total supply chain operating cost. Moreover, it is found that although CTR is better than MCNP in terms of global performance, MCNP yields good schedule stability when facing unexpected disturbances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-861
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Part A: Systems and Humans
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Agent-based modeling
  • distributed scheduling
  • information sharing
  • project scheduling
  • supply chain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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