One solution for mastering the increasing complexity of logistical processes is the establishment of modular logistics in the company. Diverse and heterogeneous customer wishes, increasing competitive pressure due to global competition as well as advancing technological developments are reasons for increasing complexity in the corporate environment. Complexity within the company affects both corporate logistics in the form of an increasing diversity of variants and new models, as companies react to increased customer needs with a corresponding range of products and services. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular need to emphasise their competitive position through effective and efficient handling of logistical processes as well as by offering innovative additional services. However, SMEs reach their limits regarding the implementation of optimisation potentials more quickly than large companies, as SMEs have limited human and material resources as well as specific methodological competences at their disposal.
Against this background, the research project "Modularisation of logistical systems in SMEs" aims at a cooperation of science and practice in order to develop and provide methods for optimisation and benefit potentials. On the one hand, the project goal is composed of the development of a guideline that supports SMEs in the delimitation of logistical modules as well as in the interface design and concentration on core competences. On the other hand, operator models for the operation and coordination of modules that can be considered for outsourcing are designed together with logistics service providers.
The modularisation of logistics systems enables a reduction of complexity. Based on the analysis of the logistics system, a guideline for the development of modules is created. The logistics modules formed contain their own resources and have defined interfaces to other modules and systems so that they can be operated with responsibility for costs or results. After modules are identified as core competencies of a company, the module that does not belong to the core business, taking into account the strategic orientation of a company, could be outsourced. In the case of outsourcing, modules can be operated by external service providers and communicate completely independently with internal company modules via standardised interfaces. The development of an operator concept for the implementation of outsourcing is part of the guideline and can eliminate the justified fears on the part of SMEs of losing control of services previously provided by themselves and maintain control rights and transparency in the case of outsourcing.
The project process can be seen in the figure below. A fundamental component was the literature analysis, in which essential modularisation methods were identified and systematised. The success factors and requirements identified in the literature for the design recommendation to be developed were then incorporated for validation in expert interviews and a questionnaire. In addition, the processes of the manufacturing companies were recorded. The process survey, the questionnaire and the interviews were carried out first to ensure a high practical relevance of the design recommendation to be developed. The success factors identified in the literature as well as modularisation methods are adapted to the requirements formulated by SMEs, modules are formed, interfaces are defined and a guideline for the implementation of modularisation in SMEs is developed. This was followed by the convening of the Project Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC is a working group in which the project partners involved and the research team met to validate the results from both the questionnaire and the expert interviews and to discuss and evaluate the first draft of the guideline. This measure ensures and emphasises a continuous practical relevance of the results. The benefit for the SMEs lies in the guideline to be created, which supports them in the formation and design of modules and in the conceptualisation of an operator model on the basis of a procedural model.
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01.09.2008 - 31.08.2009