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Modularity and Delayed Product Differentiation in Assemble-to-Order Systems

Analysis and Extensions from a Complexity Perspective
  • Thorsten Blecker
  • Nizar Abdelkafi
Chapter
Part of the International Series in Operations Research & Management Science book series (ISOR, volume 87)

Abstract

The paper assumes a product design around modular architectures and discusses the suitability of the principle of delayed product differentiation in assemble-to-order environments. We demonstrate that this principle does not enable one to make optimal decisions concerning how variety should proliferate in the assembly process. Therefore, we propose to complement this principle in that we additionally consider the variety induced complexity throughout the assembly process. The weighted Shannon entropy is proposed as a measure for the evaluation of this complexity. Our results show that the delayed product differentiation principle is reliable when the selection probabilities of module variants at each assembly stage are equal and the pace at which value is added in the whole assembly process is constant. Otherwise, the proposed measure provides different results. Furthermore, the entropy measure provides interesting clues concerning eventual reversals of assembly sequences and supports decisions regarding what modules in an assembly stage could be substituted by a common module.

Key words

Modularity delayed product differentiation complexity weighted Shannon entropy 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thorsten Blecker
    • 1
  • Nizar Abdelkafi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Business Logistics and General Management (5-11)Hamburg University of TechnologyHamburgGermany

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