Method and implementation
This chapter of the thesis first explains the structural approach that was used to answer the research questions. It then gives an insight to the case company, before explaining and justifying the selected research method. The last sections of the chapter are dedi-cated towards presenting the data collection techniques used for the study.
Connection between research questions and method
The purpose of this study was two dimensional: First, to identify the potential of RTLS to positively impact JIT management, and second to explore how these potentials could be utilized within logistics management.
To fulfil these two dimension of the purpose, a structured approach for the study was designed (please see Figure 7). The project was divided into six main stages (see 1-6), where each of the stages provided an essential contribution to answering the proposed research questions:
1Creation of a theoretical framework:
Literature and academic articles were collected from several sources to provide the study with a necessary theoretical background to create a conceptual framework for evaluating RTLS potential and possibilities in a JIT flow. The framework is presented in Table 12, chapter 4.5.
2Identification of general logistics challenges and a suitable flow
Information on the general logistics management at the focal company was collected by conducting six exploratory interviews with key personnel at the case company. These interviews were also used to identify a suitable material flow for the study of the operational logistics management at the case company.
3Investigation of the material flow
The data collection techniques selected to study the flow were observations – which also included time studies, interviews and reviewing internal documents.
4Identification of operational logistics challenges
The operational logistics challenges at the case company were identified by analysing the studied flow and categorizing the findings.
5Additional data collection of the logistics challenges
To increase the reliability of the data, key personnel at the company were invited to a focus group to discuss strengths and weaknesses within the company’s logistics man-agement and material flows.
6Evaluation of the potentials of RTLS
The analysed findings of the general logistics challenges and the studied flow were then evaluated in relation to the theoretical framework, by presenting conceptual suggestions on how a RTLS could benefit the logistics management.
This thesis has been conducted in collaboration with Scania CV AB in Oskarshamn. Scania is a global market leading automotive manufacturer of trucks and busses. The company was founded in 1891 and has it headquarter in Södertälje, Sweden. Today, Scania is present in about 100 countries and has about 49 300 employees worldwide. Currently, Scania is in the middle of the greatest transition in the company’s history of transforming the company’s image and culture to become a new market leader of sus-tainable transports. (Scania AB, 2018)
Scania’s success can be traced back to its core values of Customer first, Respect for the individual, Elimination of waste, Determination, Team spirit and Integrity, which per-meate the entire organization. These values have allowed Scania to create a culture of continues development of its employees, products and organizations, and supported the company in having a proactive strategy of creating value for its customers. (Scania AB, 2018)
In Sweden, Scania has production sites in Luleå, Södertälje and Oskarshamn. The pro-duction plant in Oskarshamn was declared the world’s most modern cab manufacturing plant in 2017. In Scania Oskarshamn, 285 robots are synchronized to produce the cab body, before components are assembled at the lines. The produced cabs are then deliv-ered to Södertälje (Sweden), Zwolle (Netherlands) or Angers (France) for final assem-bly, before delivery to the customer.
Due to the explorative nature of the study, a qualitative approach with a flexible re-search design was chosen. According to Jacobsen (2002) this allows for flexible adjust-ments of the research focus, design and execution dependent upon the discovery of new findings and is most suitable for situations wherein only limited knowledge of the stud-ied phenomenon is available.
One of the most common research methods used within qualitative research is a case study, which also was selected for this thesis. This is based on the nature of the study, which implies that even though the two concepts of JIT and RTLS are recognized and researched, there still does not exist a satisfying number of practical frameworks that combine the academics common understanding of RTLS in relation to JIT. By combin-ing the two concepts new theory is generated, based on their correlations and intercon-nections to achieve improved efficiency. This underlines the importance of selecting a research method that allows for an in-depth research study of the phenomena, as well as a method that allows for generating a theoretically based framework and testing it. Williamson (2002) explains that case studies are used for the description of phenom-ena’s and the development- and testing of theory. She continues to explain that case studies are especially appropriate when the researchers seek a deeper understanding of the context and when the field of interest is dynamic and has not yet matured. Based on this definition, case study was selected as the most appropriate method to use.
In order to fulfil the purpose of the thesis and answer the proposed research questions, the case study was designed to provide the study with empirical data from an opera-tional level (the studied flow) as well as a managerial level of the logistics (general challenges of logistics management). Based on the selected method and the case study’s design, a broad amount of data from interviews, observations and internal documents was collected, which resulted in a triangulation of empirical data. The two dimensions of empirical areas where data was collected, also allowed for a triangulation when the framework was evaluated.
Furthermore, to create a visual overview of the studied flow, the process was illustrated by using the standardized visual tools and icons of a value stream map.
1.2 PROBLEM DESCRIPTION
1.3 PURPOSE AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.4 DELIMITATIONS AND LIMITATIONS
1.5 RELEVANCE OF THE THESIS
2 Theoretical background
2.1 INDUSTRY 4.0
2.2 REAL-TIME LOCATION SYSTEM
2.3 LEAN MANUFACTURING
2.4 SYSTEM THEORY
2.5 CORRELATIONS BETWEEN RTLS AND LEAN MANUFACTURING
3 Method and implementation
3.1 CONNECTION BETWEEN RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND METHOD
3.2 CASE COMPANY
3.3 RESEARCH METHOD
3.4 DATA COLLECTION TECHNIQUES
4 Findings and analysis
4.1 GENERAL CHALLENGES WITHIN THE STUDIED LOGISTICS MANAGEMENT
4.2 IDENTIFICATION OF THE STUDIED FLOW
4.3 SIDE PANEL FLOW
4.4 SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS OF THE SIDE PANEL FLOW
4.5 FRAMEWORK FOR THE STUDY
5 Discussion and conclusions
5.1 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.2 DISCUSSION OF THE FRAMEWORK
5.3 DISCUSSION OF METHOD
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
RTLS – the missing link to optimizing Logistics Management?