Risk quantification in cold chain management: a federated learning-enabled multi-criteria decision-making methodology

Henry Lau, Yung Po Tsang (Corresponding Author), Dilupa Nakandala, Carman K.M. Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In the cold supply chain (SC), effective risk management is regarded as an essential component to address the risky and uncertain SC environment in handling time- and temperature-sensitive products. However, existing multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) approaches greatly rely on expert opinions for pairwise comparisons. Despite the fact that machine learning models can be customised to conduct pairwise comparisons, it is difficult for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to intelligently measure the ratings between risk criteria without sufficiently large datasets. Therefore, this paper aims at developing an enterprise-wide solution to identify and assess cold chain risks. Design/methodology/approach: A novel federated learning (FL)-enabled multi-criteria risk evaluation system (FMRES) is proposed, which integrates FL and the best–worst method (BWM) to measure firm-level cold chain risks under the suggested risk hierarchical structure. The factors of technologies and equipment, operations, external environment, and personnel and organisation are considered. Furthermore, a case analysis of an e-grocery SC in Australia is conducted to examine the feasibility of the proposed approach. Findings: Throughout this study, it is found that embedding the FL mechanism into the MCDM process is effective in acquiring knowledge of pairwise comparisons from experts. A trusted federation in a cold chain network is therefore formulated to identify and assess cold SC risks in a systematic manner. Originality/value: A novel hybridisation between horizontal FL and MCDM process is explored, which enhances the autonomy of the MCDM approaches to evaluate cold chain risks under the structured hierarchy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1684-1703
JournalIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021


  • Cold chain
  • Federated learning
  • Multi-criteria decision-making
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Industrial relations
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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