OPENing Re-Use – Optimal planning decisions in the re-use sector
There is general agreement on the positive effect of the re-use sector on ecological, economic and social aspects. However, in order to be able to exploit this potential in the context of a circular economy, a significant contribution of the re-use sector to economic performance and thus a large number of companies active in this area is necessary. The efficient handling of re-use-related processes, which contribute to making re-use more economically attractive than new production, is a strict requirement for the growth to be realized for this purpose. In contrast, however, the re-use sector in particular is characterized by enormous complexity, which makes the efficient operational implementation of re-use difficult: Often neither the quality of a used product nor the amount of a certain model is known in advance. Furthermore, in extreme cases, the point in time at which the used product is available for reprocessing is also unknown. All of this takes place against the background that the re-use of used goods involves a high degree of manual work and therefore requires detailed capacity planning. Manufacturers of business software have reacted to changed requirements, but such planning systems only integrate isolated options such as recycling into classic forward-oriented logistics processes, which is not sufficient for logistical requirements in the re-use sector. To date, there is no planning tool available for the re-use sector that optimizes the manual planning of re-use processes. Even science has no answers to this problem, there is a research gap in the area of the operational handling of re-use processes.
The gap described is closed with OPENing Re-Use and thus the enormous complexity in the re-use processes can be managed: By optimizing the disposition decision - i.e., what to do with used products that are returned (refurbishment, recycling, etc.) - the efficiency of re-use processes can be increased and companies in the re-use sector can be strengthened accordingly. A broad, Austria-wide study with more than 100 organizations involved in re-use allows the identification of product-(in)dependent decision-making criteria for disposition planning. These are supplemented by results from case studies by the two corporate partners. This detailed knowledge from practice is linked with current scientific knowledge regarding production logistics in order to create a mathematical tool for decision support, giving companies operational processing capabilities to optimize disposition decisions regarding used products. To prove its applicability and to satisfy the requirements of an experimental development project, the prototypical planning tool is validated and iteratively improved in pilot environments implemented by the companies involved.
The objectives and central results of OPENing Re-Use are therefore (1) research into the product-(in)dependent influencing factors on the disposition of returned used goods, (2) the conversion of this knowledge into an optimization model with regard to re-use disposition, (3) the development of pilot environments for the implementation and evaluation of new reprocessing options, (4) the implementation of the decision-supporting disposition model in pilot environments, and (5) an iterative evaluation by the participating companies with the corresponding system development up to demonstration of the prototype in the operational environment (TRL 7).
DI(FH) Dr. Gernot Lechner
Institut für Operations und Information Systems, Universität Graz
Partners of the project consortium
- Compuritas GmbH
- R.U.S.Z Franchising GmbH