Servicing Individual Product Variants within Value Chains with an Ontology

Klaus Arthofer, Corinna Engelhardt-Nowitzki, Hans-Peter Feichtenschlager, Dominic Girardi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Today companies have to satisfy manifold and changing customer demands. However, the question why and under what circumstances certain product variants cause performance problems within value chain operations remains unsolved. Existing process descriptions, data-models and IT-systems are remarkably supporting planning and optimization efforts, but show significant deficits regarding the integration of heterogeneous internal and cross-company systems. Relevant issues such as the evaluation of demand variety impacts on the subsequent value-adding steps in the value chain are not sufficiently solved. Ontological modelling could notably advance the information exchange in complex value chains and thus enhance value chain flexibility through a semantic harmonization that enables faster and faultless information flows between companies. Further advantages are the distinct reusability, modifiability, extendibility and shareability of ontology-based value chain models and software. Despite a distinct need to advance cross-company integration, ontologies are used in supply chain management only occasionally. The need for methodical enhancement is high. Thus, the objective of this paper is to investigate obtainable benefits of ontological modelling for supply chain management (SCM) – here substantiated by means of a methodological support to improve product variety management in value networks. We provide a literature review, a conceptual framework and an implementation-guide for use in scenarios that represent the problems mentioned. The project-design was developed in an explorative feasibility study based on the sample case of an Austrian manufacturer. An achieved managerial insight that extends current SC-ontology contributions is a conceivable approach on how to gain a proof of concept for cross-company ontology application in value chains.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationModelling Value
Subtitle of host publicationSelected Papers of the 1st International Conference on Value Chain Management
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)978-3-7908-2746-0
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventValue Chain Management (VCM) Conference - Steyr, Austria
Duration: 4 May 20115 May 2011

Publication series

NameContributions to Management Science
ISSN (Print)1431-1941
ISSN (Electronic)2197-716X


ConferenceValue Chain Management (VCM) Conference
Internet address


  • Ontology based modelling
  • Product variety
  • Supply chain adaptability
  • Supply chain ontology
  • Supply network modelling
  • Value chain ontology


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