Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

First Advisor

Alper Murat


The competitive landscape of the U.S. automotive market has transformed from the traditional "Big Three" players to too many viable players. In 2008-2009, the harsh market conditions, excess production capacity, capital asset redundancies, and many inefficient strategies submerged as the roadblocks for the US automakers to stay competitive and profitable in the North American market. In this new competitive era, cross-company collaboration in product development, standardizing and communizing supply base, sharing flexible manufacturing platforms, using common inbound and out bound logistics service providers and warehousing etc. can play vital roles for the US automakers to reduce overall cost and return to profitability. Through the horizontal collaboration in the outbound logistics operations, these companies can create close-knit business partnership and act faster than the foreign rivals in delivering finished vehicles at the optimum cost.

The optimization of outbound logistics operations through consolidation and collaboration among OEMs has tremendous potential to contribute to the profitability by lowering the cost of transportation, in-house inventory, transportation time, and facility costs. The collaboration in the intra- and inter-OEM outbound logistics operations is a critical area that the US automakers need to pay attention and prioritize in their cost reduction initiatives.

This research presents an integrated collaboration framework for the outbound logistics operations of the US automakers. In our framework, we propose three potential levels for the US automakers to form outbound logistics collaboration: operational, tactical, and strategic. Our research proposition is to improve the performance of outbound logistics systems of automotive OEMs by means of horizontal collaboration between plants and competing OEMs. The proposed research thus relates to the literature on logistics system design and management and horizontal collaboration in supply chain management. The collaboration framework is demonstrated through a real world case study in US automotive industry.

The contribution of this research is the introduction of a framework for intra- and inter-OEM collaboration and the development of novel logistics network design and flow models integrated with inventory models, lost sales, and expedited shipment. Besides the contribution to the academic literature, the proposed collaborative distribution system is a new concept in the automotive industry. Hence, this novel research work will also benefit to the practitioners.

Keywords: Operational Collaboration, Tactical Collaboration, Strategic Collaboration, Frequency based Inventory, Customer Patience and Lost Sales, Expedited Shipments.

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Engineering Commons