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Towards a design process for materials supply systems

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Purpose ‐ The objective of this research is to develop a structure for a materials supply systems (MSSs) design process to be used during product development projects (PDPs). Design/methodology/approach ‐ The research is based on a qualitative study at a first tier supplier in the automotive industry. Empirical data were gathered over the course of one year and analysed by means of a previously developed MSSs design model and the company's product development phases. Findings ‐ A structure for a MSSs design process has been developed, based on the following four phases: planning, concept development, system-level design and detail design. Research limitations/implications ‐ Future research could further develop the structure discussed in this paper and complement it with engineering tools for use during the design process. Practical implications ‐ The results underline the importance of a MSSs design process and emphasise that such a process should cover activities at an early stage of PDPs. Moreover, the necessity of coordinating the specifications of the various materials flows and evaluating the entire MSS before becoming absorbed by detailed design issues is highlighted. Originality/value ‐ This paper complements the rapidly growing literature on concurrent engineering by emphasising the importance of integrating the materials supply aspects at an early stage of PDPs and designing the MSS in integration with the product and the production system.
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Keywords: Automotive industry; Design; Design management; Materials management; Product development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 27, 2007

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