Precise conceptual foundation is the basis of any progress in knowledge. Therefore, the research of the group is predominantly basic-oriented, but always focused on real phenomena. From a production- and decision-theoretical perspective, we address interdisciplinary questions. We hope that our special perspective and conceptual approach will contribute to the scientific discourse of researchers and other social actors.
Customer integrated production
Nowadays, customer needs are increasingly being incorporated into product design and require companies to make conceptual changes to their production. Although an increased number of variants increases sales, it often reduces the productivity of production facilities. Hence, it is necessary to develop intelligent production concepts (keyword: mass customization) that allow cost-effective production despite individual customer needs. At the same time, new patterns of consumption, such as those developing in the context of the sharing economy, also justify the need to examine consumer activities in terms of production economics. In our view, a comprehensive theoretical foundation for these concepts is still lacking, which is why our own basic research should provide a remedy in the coming years. The focus of the considerations will be on the participation of the customer as a co-producer. It should be analysed under which circumstances which distribution of tasks between company and customer is meaningful and how such strategic production decisions can be methodically supported. The starting point for future research here is earlier work on activity-analytical modelling of service production.
Based on our own extensive work on the closed-loop management of packaging, the processes and institutional arrangements in other product and material cycles are also analysed in more detail and, among other things, material flow models and structuring concepts are developed. In the past, for example, stochastic return flow quantities and durations were integrated into demand and inventory forecasts for reusable containers. In addition to the activity-analytical modelling of material flows, the actor relationships along the cycles were also investigated and similarities and differences between cycle management and supply chain management were elaborated.
Efficiency and productivity are central objectives in the assessment of production and logistics processes. Since a purely monetary evaluation is less and less adequate these days – because ecological and social objectives usually have to be taken into account in addition to economic ones – non-monetary performance measurement is playing an increasingly important role in value creation controlling. Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) is a suitable non-parametric instrument for measuring efficiency, and its production- and decision-theoretical foundation will play a central research role in the coming years. Here it is important to work out the strengths and weaknesses of this method in order to avoid errors in practical application. These can arise, for example, in the comparison assumptions, the weighting of individual target variables or in the attribution of efficiency shares in networked value creation structures (keyword: network DEA).
The consideration of entire cycle systems is supplemented by the analysis of specific process types along the cycle. For example, we have been working for some time on production management planning in waste disposal companies (sorting and waste incineration plants). On the one hand, we have developed problem-adequate solutions based on conventional OR methods and, on the other hand, a conceptual framework for KPI-based controlling in waste management companies, which can be applied in particular in non-profit enterprises (e.g. waste management companies). In addition, factors influencing the level of household waste charges were identified and statistically verified within the framework of a nationwide survey.