Open AccessArticle
Ship Routing with Pickup and Delivery for a Maritime Oil Transportation System: MIP Model and Heuristics
Systems 2016, 4(3), 31; doi:10.3390/systems4030031 -
Abstract
This paper examines a ship routing problem with pickup and delivery and time windows for maritime oil transportation, motivated by the production and logistics activities of an oil company operating in the Brazilian coast. The transportation costs from offshore platforms to coastal [...] Read more.
This paper examines a ship routing problem with pickup and delivery and time windows for maritime oil transportation, motivated by the production and logistics activities of an oil company operating in the Brazilian coast. The transportation costs from offshore platforms to coastal terminals are an important issue in the search for operational excellence in the oil industry, involving operations that demand agile and effective decision support systems. This paper presents an optimization approach to address this problem, based on a mixed integer programming (MIP) model and a novel and exploratory application of two tailor-made MIP heuristics, based on relax-and-fix and time decomposition procedures. The model minimizes fuel costs of a heterogeneous fleet of oil tankers and costs related to freighting contracts. The model also considers company-specific constraints for offshore oil transportation. Computational experiments based on the mathematical models and the related MIP heuristics are presented for a set of real data provided by the company, which confirm the potential of optimization-based methods to find good solutions for problems of moderate sizes. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Feedback-Based Eco-Design for Integrating the Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value of Eco-Efficiency into Sustainability Management
Systems 2016, 4(3), 30; doi:10.3390/systems4030030 -
Abstract
Customer feedback is used to understand customer requirements. Early design phases require the consideration of items including manufacturing, the environment, and sustainability management. Therefore, it is crucial that eco-efficiency is taken into account in the early design phases. Traditionally, eco-efficiency is considered [...] Read more.
Customer feedback is used to understand customer requirements. Early design phases require the consideration of items including manufacturing, the environment, and sustainability management. Therefore, it is crucial that eco-efficiency is taken into account in the early design phases. Traditionally, eco-efficiency is considered only in terms of eco-design issues, not customer requirements based on business values such as Recency, Frequency, and Monetary (RFM) value. In the meantime, integrating innovation from eco-design is one important aspect. Here, I propose that customer feedback-based eco-efficiency and TRIZ-based innovation can be considered in early eco-design based on the RFM value for sustainability management. The analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and fuzzy-based AHP were integrated to explore the relative weights of RFM variables for business value evaluation. The innovative method of the paper is using a TRIZ contradiction matrix associated with engineering parameters for eco-design. The experimental study has been carried out, and it meets the forecasting business value for green product usage. The business value was used as the decision-making factor in order to evaluate both environmental and marketing performance. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Model of the Russian Federation Construction Innovation System: An Integrated Participatory Systems Approach
Systems 2016, 4(3), 29; doi:10.3390/systems4030029 -
Abstract
This research integrates systemic and participatory techniques to model the Russian Federation construction innovation system. Understanding this complex construction innovation system and determining the best levers for enhancing it require the dynamic modelling of a number of factors, such as flows of [...] Read more.
This research integrates systemic and participatory techniques to model the Russian Federation construction innovation system. Understanding this complex construction innovation system and determining the best levers for enhancing it require the dynamic modelling of a number of factors, such as flows of resources and activities, policies, uncertainty and time. To build the foundations for such a dynamic model, the employed study method utilised an integrated stakeholder-based participatory approach coupled with structural analysis (MICMAC—Matrice d'Impacts Croisés Multiplication Appliquée à un Classement Cross-Impact Matrix). This method identified the key factors of the Russian Federation construction innovation system, their causal relationship (i.e., influence/dependence map) and, ultimately, a causal loop diagram. The generated model reveals pathways to improving construction innovation in the Russian Federation and underpins the future development of an operationalised system dynamics model. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Using Textual Data in System Dynamics Model Conceptualization
Systems 2016, 4(3), 28; doi:10.3390/systems4030028 -
Abstract
Qualitative data is an important source of information for system dynamics modeling. It can potentially support any stage of the modeling process, yet it is mainly used in the early steps such as problem identification and model conceptualization. Existing approaches that outline [...] Read more.
Qualitative data is an important source of information for system dynamics modeling. It can potentially support any stage of the modeling process, yet it is mainly used in the early steps such as problem identification and model conceptualization. Existing approaches that outline a systematic use of qualitative data in model conceptualization are often not adopted for reasons of time constraints resulting from an abundance of data. In this paper, we introduce an approach that synthesizes the strengths of existing methods. This alternative approach (i) is focused on causal relationships starting from the initial steps of coding; (ii) generates a generalized and simplified causal map without recording individual relationships so that time consumption can be reduced; and (iii) maintains the links from the final causal map to the data sources by using software. We demonstrate an application of this approach in a study about integrated decision making in the housing sector of the UK. Full article
Open AccessCommunication
Foreground and Background Components in Separable Complex Systems
Systems 2016, 4(3), 27; doi:10.3390/systems4030027 -
Abstract
Complex systems are composed of a large number of individual components. Many of these systems are separable, i.e., they can be split into two coupled subsystems: one with foreground components and another with background components. The former leads to narrow peaks in [...] Read more.
Complex systems are composed of a large number of individual components. Many of these systems are separable, i.e., they can be split into two coupled subsystems: one with foreground components and another with background components. The former leads to narrow peaks in the frequency spectrum of the system and the latter gives the broad-band part. There is coupling between the two subsystems, but they can be studied separately for purposes of modeling and for analysis of experimental data. Examples from the literature are given from the area of mechanical vibrations, but the approach is quite general and can be adapted to other kinds of problems. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Knowledge to Manage the Knowledge Society: The Concept of Theoretical Incompleteness
Systems 2016, 4(3), 26; doi:10.3390/systems4030026 -
Abstract
After having outlined the essential differences between non-complex systems and complex systems we briefly recall the conceptual approaches considered by the pre-complexity General Systems Theory introduced by Von Bertalanffy in 1968 and those of the science of complexity and post-Bertalanffy General Systems [...] Read more.
After having outlined the essential differences between non-complex systems and complex systems we briefly recall the conceptual approaches considered by the pre-complexity General Systems Theory introduced by Von Bertalanffy in 1968 and those of the science of complexity and post-Bertalanffy General Systems Theory. In this context, after outlining the concept of completeness, we consider cases of incompleteness in various disciplines to arrive at theoretical incompleteness. The latter is clarified through several cases of different natures and by approaches in the literature, such as logical openness, the Dynamic Usage of Models (DYSAM), and the principle of uncertainty in physics. The treatment and the contrast between completeness and incompleteness are introduced as a conceptual and cultural context, as knowledge to manage the knowledge society in analogy, for example, with the transition from the logic of certainty to that of uncertainty introduced by De Finetti. The conceptual framework of completeness is not appropriate for dealing with complexity. Conversely, the conceptual framework of incompleteness is consistent and appropriate with interdisciplinary complexity. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Improved Time Response of Stabilization in Synchronization of Chaotic Oscillators Using Mathematica
Systems 2016, 4(2), 25; doi:10.3390/systems4020025 -
Abstract
Chaotic dynamics are an interesting topic in nonlinear science that has been intensively studied during the last three decades due to its wide availability. Motivated by much researches on synchronization, the authors of this study have improved the time response of stabilization [...] Read more.
Chaotic dynamics are an interesting topic in nonlinear science that has been intensively studied during the last three decades due to its wide availability. Motivated by much researches on synchronization, the authors of this study have improved the time response of stabilization when parametrically excited Φ6—Van der Pol Oscillator (VDPO) and Φ6—Duffing Oscillator (DO) are synchronized identically as well as non-identically (with each other) using the Linear Active Control (LAC) technique using Mathematica. Furthermore, the authors have synchronized the same pairs of the oscillators using a more robust synchronization with faster time response of stability called Robust Adaptive Sliding Mode Control (RASMC). A comparative study has been done between the previous results of Njah’s work and our results based on Mathematica via LAC. The time response of stabilization of synchronization using RASMC has been discussed. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Adaptation in E-Learning Content Specifications with Dynamic Sharable Objects
Systems 2016, 4(2), 24; doi:10.3390/systems4020024 -
Abstract
Dynamic sophisticated real-time adaptation is not possible with current e-learning technologies. Our proposal is based on changing the approach for the development of e-learning systems using dynamic languages and including them in both platforms and learning content specifications thereby making them adaptive. [...] Read more.
Dynamic sophisticated real-time adaptation is not possible with current e-learning technologies. Our proposal is based on changing the approach for the development of e-learning systems using dynamic languages and including them in both platforms and learning content specifications thereby making them adaptive. We propose a Sharable Auto-Adaptive Learning Object (SALO), defined as an object that includes learning content and describes its own behaviour supported by dynamic languages. We describe an example implementation of SALO for the delivery and assessment of a web development course using Moodle rubrics. As a result, the learning objects can dynamically adapt their characteristics and behaviour in e-learning platforms. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Model-Based Design and Formal Verification Processes for Automated Waterway System Operations
Systems 2016, 4(2), 23; doi:10.3390/systems4020023 -
Abstract
Waterway and canal systems are particularly cost effective in the transport of bulk and containerized goods to support global trade. Yet, despite these benefits, they are among the most under-appreciated forms of transportation engineering systems. Looking ahead, the long-term view is not [...] Read more.
Waterway and canal systems are particularly cost effective in the transport of bulk and containerized goods to support global trade. Yet, despite these benefits, they are among the most under-appreciated forms of transportation engineering systems. Looking ahead, the long-term view is not rosy. Failures, delays, incidents and accidents in aging waterway systems are doing little to attract the technical and economic assistance required for modernization and sustainability. In a step toward overcoming these challenges, this paper argues that programs for waterway and canal modernization and sustainability can benefit significantly from system thinking, supported by systems engineering techniques. We propose a multi-level multi-stage methodology for the model-based design, simulation and formal verification of automated waterway system operations. At the front-end of development, semi-formal modeling techniques are employed for the representation of project goals and scenarios, requirements and high-level models of behavior and structure. To assure the accuracy of engineering predictions and the correctness of operations, formal modeling techniques are used for the performance assessment and the formal verification of the correctness of functionality. The essential features of this methodology are highlighted in a case study examination of ship and lock-system behaviors in a two-stage lock system. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
A Classification of Adaptive Feedback in Educational Systems for Programming
Systems 2016, 4(2), 22; doi:10.3390/systems4020022 -
Abstract
Over the last three decades, many educational systems for programming have been developed to support learning/teaching programming. In this paper, feedback types that are supported by existing educational systems for programming are classified. In order to be able to provide feedback, educational [...] Read more.
Over the last three decades, many educational systems for programming have been developed to support learning/teaching programming. In this paper, feedback types that are supported by existing educational systems for programming are classified. In order to be able to provide feedback, educational systems for programming deployed various approaches to analyzing students’ programs. This paper identifies analysis approaches for programs and introduces a classification for adaptive feedback supported by educational systems for programming. The classification of feedback is the contribution of this paper. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Knowledge Comparison Environment for Supporting Meaningful Learning of E-Book Users
Systems 2016, 4(2), 21; doi:10.3390/systems4020021 -
Abstract
In this paper, we present an ontology-based visualization support system which can provide a meaningful learning environment to help e-book learners to effectively construct their knowledge frameworks. In this personalized visualization support system, learners are encouraged to actively locate new knowledge in [...] Read more.
In this paper, we present an ontology-based visualization support system which can provide a meaningful learning environment to help e-book learners to effectively construct their knowledge frameworks. In this personalized visualization support system, learners are encouraged to actively locate new knowledge in their own knowledge framework and check the logical consistency of their ideas for clearing up misunderstandings; on the other hand, instructors will be able to decide the group distribution for collaborative learning activities based on the knowledge structure of learners. For facilitating those visualization supports, a method to semi-automatically construct a course-centered ontology to describe the required information in a map structure is presented. To automatically manipulate this course-centered ontology to provide visualization learning supports, a prototype system is designed and developed. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Challenges and Success Factors of ERP Systems in Australian SMEs
Systems 2016, 4(2), 20; doi:10.3390/systems4020020 -
Abstract
Today, great potential is envisaged for ERP systems in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and software vendors have been repackaging their ERP systems for SMEs with a recent focus on cloud-based systems. While cloud ERP offers the best solution for SMEs without [...] Read more.
Today, great potential is envisaged for ERP systems in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and software vendors have been repackaging their ERP systems for SMEs with a recent focus on cloud-based systems. While cloud ERP offers the best solution for SMEs without the overheads of the huge investment and management costs that are associated with traditional ERP systems, the SME sector faces many challenges in their adoption. Traditional ERP studies have predominantly focused on large organizations, and gaps in the literature indicate that both vendor and consumer perspectives require more understanding with new technology offerings for SMEs. This paper describes some of the common challenges, such as cost effectiveness, alignment between software and business processes, customized governance and training, which form the major SME constraints for ERP system adoption. Due to the dynamic nature of SME businesses, best practice guidelines for an SME’s ERP implementation could be arrived at through closer investigation of its business requirements in order to avoid misfits. This forms the main objective of the study. We identify key success factors of ERP implementation in an Australian SME as a case study. These target success factors are then compared to the actual outcomes achieved. Factors such as business process alignment with the ERP system, meeting customer and stakeholder needs and reducing recurring and maintenance costs were key to the success of ERP implementation for the Australian SME. In particular, the IT and business strategy alignment with a customer focus and flexible reporting features of ERP systems has resulted in business agility. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Three Scales of Acephalous Organization
Systems 2016, 4(2), 19; doi:10.3390/systems4020019 -
Abstract
Dominance-based hierarchies have been taken for granted as the way we structure our organizations, but they are a part of a paradigm that has put our whole existence in peril. There is an urgent need to explore alternative paradigms that take us [...] Read more.
Dominance-based hierarchies have been taken for granted as the way we structure our organizations, but they are a part of a paradigm that has put our whole existence in peril. There is an urgent need to explore alternative paradigms that take us away from dystopic futures towards preferred, life enhancing paradigms based on wellbeing. One of the alternative ways of organizing ourselves that avoids much of the structural violence of existing organizations is the acephalous group (operating without any structured, ongoing leadership). Decision making becomes distributed, transitory and self-selecting. Such groups are not always appropriate and have their strengths and weaknesses, but they can be a more effective, humane way of organizing ourselves and can open windows to new ways of being. Acephalous groups operate at many different scales and adapt their structure accordingly. For this reason, a comparison of small, medium and large-scale acephalous groups reveals some of the dynamics involved in acephalous functioning and provides a useful overview of these emergent forms of organization and foreshadows the role they may play in future. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Possibilistic Approach for Aggregating Customer Opinions in Product Development
Systems 2016, 4(2), 17; doi:10.3390/systems4020017 -
Abstract
One of the major tasks of product development is to collect the opinions of potential customers and to then find out the status of certain product features. The status of a product feature means whether or not it must, should, or could [...] Read more.
One of the major tasks of product development is to collect the opinions of potential customers and to then find out the status of certain product features. The status of a product feature means whether or not it must, should, or could be included in the product, or even avoided. In doing so, a simple relative frequency-based computing approach is not sufficient. Rather, a logical computing approach is a better option. Based on this contemplation, this study describes a methodology to identify the status of a product feature in terms of must-be, should-be, or could-be categories, where the collected customer opinions are computed using a logical approach. Possibility distributions (i.e., fuzzy numbers) play a significant role in the logical computation. A Kano-model-based questionnaire is employed to collect the customer opinions. Through a case study, it is demonstrated that the proposed approach is effective in dealing with both the subjectivity and controversy that the customer opinions may exhibit. The results of this study are useful for making decisions in the early stage of a product development process in a lucid manner. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Systems of Interaction between the First Sedentary Villages in the Near East Exposed Using Agent-Based Modelling of Obsidian Exchange
Systems 2016, 4(2), 18; doi:10.3390/systems4020018 -
Abstract
In the Near East, nomadic hunter-gatherer societies became sedentary farmers for the first time during the transition into the Neolithic. Sedentary life presented a risk of isolation for Neolithic groups. As fluid intergroup interactions are crucial for the sharing of information, resources [...] Read more.
In the Near East, nomadic hunter-gatherer societies became sedentary farmers for the first time during the transition into the Neolithic. Sedentary life presented a risk of isolation for Neolithic groups. As fluid intergroup interactions are crucial for the sharing of information, resources and genes, Neolithic villages developed a network of contacts. In this paper we study obsidian exchange between Neolithic villages in order to characterize this network of interaction. Using agent-based modelling and elements taken from complex network theory, we model obsidian exchange and compare results with archaeological data. We demonstrate that complex networks of interaction were established at the outset of the Neolithic and hypothesize that the existence of these complex networks was a necessary condition for the success and spread of a new way of living. Full article
Open AccessCommunication
Towards a Multidisciplinary Approach on Creating Value: Sustainability through the Supply Chain and ERP Systems
Systems 2016, 4(1), 16; doi:10.3390/systems4010016 -
Abstract
Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) is a widely used approach through manufacturing environments in a variety of sectors. With a tendency to go to specialized, smaller lot sizes in several industries (e.g., the pharmaceutical sector), companies are dealing with capacity bottlenecks if the [...] Read more.
Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) is a widely used approach through manufacturing environments in a variety of sectors. With a tendency to go to specialized, smaller lot sizes in several industries (e.g., the pharmaceutical sector), companies are dealing with capacity bottlenecks if the planning rhythm wheel is not well calibrated or when production lines are not flexible enough in terms of changeover (C/O) and set-up times (S/U) (OEE is too small). A well-established communication system including other enterprise resources or production factors (e.g., Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP) is favorable to any extent. More and more questions arise from stakeholder communities and end-users on whether or not supply chains and manufacturing environments are sustainable and safe. Departments such as Environmental Health, Safety & Sustainability (EHS & S) and Product Stewardship are too often at the “blind” side of the ICT interface. When it comes to product and organizational sustainability, data seems to be lacking in order to conduct sustainability assessments proficiently. Years of intensive research and experience proved that primary data to perform sustainability assessments often are measured through equipment control sensors (e.g., flow rates, temperatures, etc.) and sent to PLCs and many other systems. Nevertheless, these data measurements are in many cases simply not penetrating through the Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) because these bottom-up engineering data seems to be of little value to planning, procurement, etc. This communication paper deals with how sustainability assessments can be embedded in business operational management systems. After all, who does not want a “live Carbon Footprint” for process improvements and external sustainability reporting instead of a series of expensive resource consuming studies of 4 to 6 months digging into data logs in traditional Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)? This communication paper has taken one step further in coupling business ERP systems with environmental sustainability of products, services and enterprises. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
When Easy Becomes Boring and Difficult Becomes Frustrating: Disentangling the Effects of Item Difficulty Level and Person Proficiency on Learning and Motivation
Systems 2016, 4(1), 14; doi:10.3390/systems4010014 -
Abstract
The research on electronic learning environments has evolved towards creating adaptive learning environments. In this study, the focus is on adaptive curriculum sequencing, in particular, the efficacy of an adaptive curriculum sequencing algorithm based on matching the item difficulty level to the [...] Read more.
The research on electronic learning environments has evolved towards creating adaptive learning environments. In this study, the focus is on adaptive curriculum sequencing, in particular, the efficacy of an adaptive curriculum sequencing algorithm based on matching the item difficulty level to the learner’s proficiency level. We therefore explored the effect of the relative difficulty level on learning outcome and motivation. Results indicate that, for learning environments consisting of questions focusing on just one dimension and with knowledge of correct response, it does not matter whether we present easy, moderate or difficult items or whether we present the items with a random mix of difficulty levels, regarding both learning and motivation. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Using Optimization Models for Scheduling in Enterprise Resource Planning Systems
Systems 2016, 4(1), 15; doi:10.3390/systems4010015 -
Abstract
Companies often use specially-designed production systems and change them from time to time. They produce small batches in order to satisfy specific demands with the least tardiness. This imposes high demands on high-performance scheduling algorithms which can be rapidly adapted to changes [...] Read more.
Companies often use specially-designed production systems and change them from time to time. They produce small batches in order to satisfy specific demands with the least tardiness. This imposes high demands on high-performance scheduling algorithms which can be rapidly adapted to changes in the production system. As a solution, this paper proposes a generic approach: solutions were obtained using a widely-used commercially-available tool for solving linear optimization models, which is available in an Enterprise Resource Planning System (in the SAP system for example) or can be connected to it. In a real-world application of a flow shop with special restrictions this approach is successfully used on a standard personal computer. Thus, the main implication is that optimal scheduling with a commercially-available tool, incorporated in an Enterprise Resource Planning System, may be the best approach. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Non-Conscious vs. Deliberate Dynamic Decision-Making—A Pilot Experiment
Systems 2016, 4(1), 13; doi:10.3390/systems4010013 -
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects of non-conscious vs. deliberate ways of making decisions in a dynamic decision-making task. An experimental setting is used to study this question; three experimental groups are distinguished: immediate decision-making (only very limited [...] Read more.
The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects of non-conscious vs. deliberate ways of making decisions in a dynamic decision-making task. An experimental setting is used to study this question; three experimental groups are distinguished: immediate decision-making (only very limited time for deliberate cognitive processing), considerate decision-making (relatively long time for deliberate cognitive processing), and distracted decision-making (time for non-conscious cognitive processing only). As experimental stimulus, a simulator based on the Kaibab Plateau model was employed. With a sample size of more than 100 experimental participants, group differences are not significant for most data examined. Implications comprise the formulation of a framework to guide further research. The value of this paper lies in the fact that it connects to a recent discussion in psychology and transfers it to a domain in the core interest of the system community: decision-making in situations with dynamic complexity. Furthermore, it offers a range of improvement points for potential follow-up studies. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Accounting Treatment for Carbon Emission Rights
Systems 2016, 4(1), 12; doi:10.3390/systems4010012 -
Abstract
In light of the growing demand for sustainable behavior and the special interest that has emerged regarding the social and environmental impact of firms, the purpose of this research is to analyze the determinants of the accounting treatment of emission rights. To [...] Read more.
In light of the growing demand for sustainable behavior and the special interest that has emerged regarding the social and environmental impact of firms, the purpose of this research is to analyze the determinants of the accounting treatment of emission rights. To achieve that purpose, we use a sample composed of 119 firms worldwide from different  countries and activity sectors for the period 2011. Our findings show different accounting treatments depending on a series of factors. Specifically, firms pertaining to countries that have adopted Environmental Trading Schemes (ETS) tend to account for emission rights through provisions, investments, or as inventory. For their part, firms that issue indicators that appear in the report drawn up by KPMG and GRI (2007) tend to account for these entries as expenses, especially as R + D expenses. Finally, firms located in countries that signed the Kyoto protocol have a tendency to not account for carbon emission rights. The findings of this work can be considered of great interest on the international level because our research contributes to the scant previous literature regarding the accounting treatment of emission rights. Full article