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A general method for addressing forecasting uncertainty in inventory models

Dennis Prak and Ruud Teunter

International Journal of Forecasting, 2019, vol. 35, issue 1, 224-238

Abstract: In practice, inventory decisions depend heavily on demand forecasts, but the literature typically assumes that demand distributions are known. This means that estimates are substituted directly for the unknown parameters, leading to insufficient safety stocks, stock-outs, low service, and high costs. We propose a framework for addressing this estimation uncertainty that is applicable to any inventory model, demand distribution, and parameter estimator. The estimation errors are modeled and a predictive lead time demand distribution obtained, which is then substituted into the inventory model. We illustrate this framework for several different demand models. When the estimates are based on ten observations, the relative savings are typically between 10% and 30% for mean-stationary demand. However, the savings are larger when the estimates are based on fewer observations, when backorders are costlier, or when the lead time is longer. In the presence of a trend, the savings are between 50% and 80% for several scenarios.

Keywords: Demand forecasting; Inventory control; Safety stock; Parameter uncertainty; Bayesian methods (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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