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ModuLoSys: Modularization of logistics systems

A solution for mastering the increasing complexity of logistics processes is the development of modular logistics within a company. Diverse and heterogeneous customer requirements, increasing competitive pressure from global competition and progressive 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 variety of variants and new models, as companies react to the increased customer requirements with a corresponding range of products and services.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular must emphasise their competitive position through effective and efficient handling of logistical processes as well as the provision of innovative additional services. However, SMEs reach their limits faster than large companies when it comes to implementing optimization potential because SMEs have limited human and material resources and specific methodological skills.
Against this background, the research project "Modularisation of logistic systems in SMEs" aims at a cooperation between science and practice in order to develop and provide methods for optimisation and benefit potentials. The project objective consists on the one hand of the development of a guideline that supports SMEs in defining logistical modules and in designing interfaces and concentrating on core competencies. On the other hand, operator models for the operation and coordination of modules that can be outsourced are designed together with logistics service providers.
The modularisation of logistical systems enables a reduction in complexity. Based on the analysis of the logistics system, a guideline for the development of modules is created. The logistics modules formed contain own resources and have defined interfaces to other modules and systems so that these can be operated under cost or profit responsibility. Once modules have been identified as a company's core competencies, the module that is not part of a company's core business could be outsourced, taking into account its strategic orientation. In the case of outsourcing, modules can be operated by external service providers and communicate completely independently with internal company modules via standardized 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 loss of control of previously self-produced services and maintain control rights as well as transparency in the case of outsourcing.

The course of the project can be seen in the figure below. A fundamental component was the literature analysis, in which essential modularization methods were identified and systematized. The success factors and requirements identified in the literature for the design recommendation to be developed were then included in expert interviews and a questionnaire for validation. In addition, the processes of the manufacturing companies were included. The process recording, the questionnaire and the interviews were first carried out in order to ensure a high practical relevance of the design recommendation to be developed. The success factors and modularisation methods identified in the literature are adapted to the requirements formulated by SMEs, modules are formed, interfaces defined and a guideline for the implementation of modularisation in SMEs is developed. Subsequently, the Project Support Committee (PA) was convened. The PA is a working group in which the project partners involved and the research team met to validate the results of 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 SMEs lies in the guideline to be drawn up, which supports them in the creation and design of modules and in the conception of an operator model on the basis of a process model.


Project website

Website of the ModuLoSys project

Project duration

01.09.2008 – 31.08.2009

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