Complexity Cost Assessment for Logistic Systems (BeKoLog)

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) as stakeholder as well as operator of logistic systems are facing the impact of complexity, driven by competitors and megatrends. Although this development is present theoretical approaches to manage complexity are focusing on product systems so far. Aim of this research project was to cover the identified research gap and transfer the ideas of the product oriented approaches to process oriented logistic systems. The integration of theoretical and practical approaches was done by linking knowledge, based on a comprehensive literature review, with practical expertise of the project committee’s stakeholder.

Within the scope of developing a methodology, complexity cost drivers for different types of complexity were identified and structured in a framework. Methodological background for this was a control loop adapted from the theory of cybernetics. Aim of this project was the development of an approach for assessing complexity costs for logistic systems. By comparing predetermined business performance goals with identified actual costs of a logistic system a cost potential is determined. To graphically visualize this essential outcome of the project a radar chart is used. The chart is a basis for deriving case-related systematic recommendations for optimizing complexity costs. By applying product orientated approaches for managing complexity costs to logistic systems the project delivers an innovative step in covering the research gap mentioned above.

Against the background of increasingly globalized logistic systems the amount of controllable complexity is successively rising. Thereby, finding the optimal degree of complexity that contributes best to the cost-effectiveness is a main challenge for cost optimization and improving the position in international competition. Particularly for SME methods for the assessment of complexity and costs on the level of a network do not primarily focus on strategic management due to an often limited capacity of employees. Developing an applicable approach for the identification of saving potentials driven by complexity may directly lead to an increase in competiveness for a company.

The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology via the Industrial Community of Research and Development (IGF) and supported by the “Bundesvereinigung Logistik” (BVL). From April 2013 to january 205 the research work was executed under the academic supervision of Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Wolfgang Kersten by the Institute of Business Logistics and General Management (LogU) in cooperation with several praxis partners from the industry.

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