Digitalized manufacturing logistics in engineer-to-order operations
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The high complexity in Engineer-To-Order (ETO) operations causes major challenges for manufacturing logistics, especially in complex ETO, i.e. one-of-a-kind production. Increased digitalization of manufacturing logistics processes and activities can facilitate more efficient coordination of the material and information flows for manufacturing operations in general. However, it is not clear how to do this in the ETO environment, where products are highly customized and production is non-repetitive. This paper aims to investigate the challenges related to manufacturing logistics in ETO and how digital technologies can be applied to address them. Through a case study of a Norwegian shipyard, four main challenges related to manufacturing logistics are identified. Further, by reviewing recent literature on ETO and digitalization, the paper identifies specific applications of digital technologies in ETO manufacturing. Finally, by linking manufacturing logistics challenges to digitalization, the paper suggests four main features of digitalized manufacturing logistics in ETO: (i) seamless, digitalized information flow, (ii) identification and interconnectivity, (iii) digitalized operator support, and (iv) automated and autonomous material flow. Thus, the paper provides valuable insights into how ETO companies can move towards digitalized manufacturing logistics.