Modeling Supply Chain Disruptions During a Pandemic: A System Dynamics Approach

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Systems Engineering

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the Annual General Donald R. Keith Memorial Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


The COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020 uniquely impacted the janitorial supply industry with shocks in both demand and supply. Some products experienced massive increases in demand leading to shortages, while the closing of public spaces caused a decrease in demand of other products. The industry experienced delays in shipping and production because of factory closings. Changing public policies for hygiene standards in public buildings, schools, and government buildings has led to a sustained increase in demand for certain products. The janitorial supply chain is a dynamic system that continues to experience change as the pandemic and the public response to it evolves. This research uses a System Dynamics approach to model a small janitorial supply business’ inventory both before and during the pandemic using Vensim. The model focuses on the main categories of products the business sells (Paper Products, Chemicals, Aerosols, and Garbage Bags) and how their respective flows of supply and demand are affected. The business purchases some products directly from manufacturers and others from larger distributors. It sells primarily to the following categories of customers: government contracts, factories, businesses, and individual walk-in sales. Ultimately, this model explores practical policies the store could implement to make them more resilient to the extreme levels of uncertain supply and demand caused by the pandemic. Implementing inventory minimums for sales and safety stocks for orders improved the number of sales and increased revenue for the business during pandemic simulations. Safety stocks and inventory minimums prove to be useful policies for small businesses to consider to become more resilient and survivable to a pandemic.

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