Product Variety Management in Process Industry Companies

Alexandria Lee Trattner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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Coping with increasing product variety has been a principal industrial challenge for industries in the age of globalisation, mass customisation and more selective customers. A broad product portfolio can require increased product changeovers, reduced production efficiencies, more complex production planning and reduced service level towards end customers. A high product variety in particular is a challenge for process industry companies, which are characterised by large, expensive, automated equipment designed to mass produce a narrow product range.
This thesis presents a set of eight studies that examine the relationship between product variety and operational performance from multiple perspectives. First, the way product variety affects operational performance in industrial companies is described through a
systematic literature review. Next, using various quantitative regression techniques, this study builds on the literature by quantifying the magnitude of the impact of product variety on process productivity using multiple cases at a process industry manufacturer. Last, a set of methods is presented to better manage product variety without compromising operational and financial performance. Each method is tested using a case study of different process industry firms.
Based on the academic literature, the results show that increasing product variety in manufacturing and supply chain firms is related to increased cost and reduced time performance and is only slightly related to reduced quality and delivery performance. Through the quantitative studies, it is shown that the specific impact of product variety on production productivity operationalises itself in a process industry setting as smaller batch sizes, increased changeover waste and higher process variability, resulting in reduced
operating speed. Methods shown to improve the management of product variety in process industry firms include production planning methods, such as the product wheel, a framework for analysing lost production speed and a product portfolio optimisation
tool. These findings, along with findings related to a longitudinal product variety reduction at a case company within the process industry, provide insights for academics and practitioners regarding the nature of the relationship between product variety and
operational performance as well as the methods by which the relationship can be managed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages221
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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