This research field can be divided into two main building blocks: (1) strategies, approaches, and instruments of complexity management in logistics, and (2) modularization strategies for complexity reduction.Strategies, Approaches, and Instruments of Complexity Management in Logistics
Supply chains and logistics are facing a steadily growing complexity. This increased complexity is not only due to company-specific, but also to industry-wide factors. Inefficient organizational structures and poor standardization are factors, internal to the company, that can drive supply chain and logistics complexity to increase. Globalization, short product lifecycles, higher customer requirements, and stronger orientation on outsourcing because of an intensive concentration on core competencies are examples of industry-wide factors that contribute to the increased complexity in supply chain and logistics.
Complexity can have many detrimental effects on supply chain and logistics operations. In particular, complexity can considerably slow down logistics processes and negatively affects the efficiency of the supply chain network. Because of this, a complexity management appproach, taking the whole logistics network into account, gains increasingly in importance. So far, however, complexity management more often concentrated on the single company, while neglecting the broader-supply chain-perspective.
The research focus in this building block is to elaborate complexity management concepts that are applicable to the the logistics and suppply chain network. The fundamental objective is to develop integrative tools, methods, and techniques that combine the product and process views an consider, at the same time, the whole value adding system.
Modularization Strategies for Complexity Reduction
Modularization strategies, applied to systems of whatever nature, enable one to reduce system complexity. Modularization aims to divide the whole system into smaller, decoupled, and manageable subsystems.
Product modularization results in a product structures, exhibiting a low level of coupling between the modules and strong level of coupling within the modules themselves. Although, there have been many attempts in the literature to develop modularization methods, there is still a lack of methods that can determine the modular concept in a systematic and objective way. Consequently, this research building block aims to devise modularization methods that eliminate subjective and inaccurate judgements, while taking the vallue chain process into account. In addition, this research focuses on developing software tools that make it possible to implement the developed methods automatically, using a coomputer system.