Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

First Advisor

Ratna B. Chinnam


The assortment planning problem is to decide on the set of products that a retailer or manufacturer will offer to its customers to maximize profitability. While assortment planning research has been expanding in recent years, the current models are inadequate for the needs of a configurable product manufacturer. In particular, we address assortment planning for an automobile manufacturer. We develop models to integrate assortment planning and supply chain management, designed for use by a large automaker in its strategic planning phase. Our model utilizes a multinomial logit model transformed into a mixed integer linear program through the Charnes-Cooper transformation. It is able to scale to problems that contain thousands of configurations to possibly be offered, a necessity given the number of possible configurations an automaker can build. In addition, most research in assortment planning contains simplified costs associated with product complexity. We model a full supply chain and give a rich treatment of the complexity associated with product complexity. We believe that our model can significantly aid automotive manufacturers to balance their product complexity with supply chain complexity, thus increasing profitability.

In addition, we study the effect of packaging on the assortment and supply chain of an automaker. We develop a new model for mathematically expressing the effect that packaging has on the way in which customers choose products. Packaging significantly complicates the search space of the assortment planning problem. We introduce a heuristic method based on our packaging model that speeds up the solve times of the models while finding reasonably good solutions.

Finally, we extend our initial model to study the effects of sustainability requirements on an automaker's assortment and supply chain. We introduce constraints on the vehicle program average fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions in the supply chain, and greenhouse gas emissions in the product use phase. We dive deep into each case to glean insights about how automakers can change their decision-making process to balance making their companies more sustainable with profit maximization. While all the examples discussed are from the automotive industry, the models developed can be adapted to address assortment planning for other types of configurable products (e.g., computers, printers, phones).