Design for Logistics

Since some decades ago there have been techniques which support the design process concerned with possibilities to manufacturing (Design for Manufacturing) and assembling. The influence of logistics aspects on the design process (and vice-versa) has not been enough studied yet. However, this topic is very important because during the design phase decisions have to be made which have great consequences for logistic aspects, both internal and external: the internal logistics of production and assembly; and the external logistics considering maintenance and part delivery.

Traditionally, manufacturing business has been organized “in series”, with functions such as engineering, manufacturing, and marketing as successive steps. With the advance of “concurrent engineering” that system is often complemented by a parallel team organization, which brings various functions together from the very beginning of product development. At the same time, there is a shift from a producer’s market to a consumer’s market. This means increase in the demand for a higher product variety. The introduction of variety increases two basic categories of costs: production costs and market mediation costs. Consequently, companies must carry out the paradoxical task of providing exclusive products at low cost, high-quality, and at short delivery times.

An advanced logistics management strategy must be determined together with a product’s functional specifications to achieve an optimal life-cycle performance. The activities performed from concept to disposal of a product must be integrated and synchronized, leading to the lowest cost possible, the most efficient and flexible production, highest quality and highest service level for the product. Logistical concepts as customer order decoupling point (CODP), postponement and supply-chain development have direct relation with design concept, especially if customization is involved. Yet, little is known about these subjects by the designer.

The scope of the research has been focused on variety and its influence on the logistics strategy as well as design decisions. The choice of product and marketing strategy affects both aspects in different ways. Case-studies in different kinds of industries will help us conclude the framework for helping designers consider logistics strategy while making their job.


Raida de Jesus Silva

University of Twente

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Design, Production and Management group

P.O. Box 217

7500 AE Enschede

The Netherlands