Making obsolescence obsolete - A practical study of obsolescence management theory in the context of a truck OEM
Sammanfattning: Truck manufacturers are facing unprecedented technological disruptions from electrification, digitalization and automation. When disrupted, sustainment-dominated industries such as the trucking industry, face increased risks of component and system obsolescence, which might lead to skyrocketing costs and diminishing aftermarket service. Building on existing theory of obsolescence and insights from other disrupted industries, the purpose of this thesis is to investigate how a truck OEM can effectively manage obsolescence issues caused by disruptive technologies. In order to reach substantiated conclusions of this research question, four supporting research questions were formulated to understand the OEM’s current disruption and obsolescence management situation, what insights and learnings can be gathered from other relevant industries, what early warnings the OEM can use to assess when to manage obsolescence issues, and finally how the OEM can develop strategies to better manage obsolescence. The thesis applied a multi-method framework to investigate the research questions and fulfil the purpose. First, a case study review of relevant industries (aviation, cars, defense, electronics, energy, ICT, lighting, music, maritime, rail and space) was conducted. Second, semi-structured interviews were held with employees from a specific truck OEM, experts within the field of obsolescence; and experienced professionals from disrupted industries (cars, music, lighting and rail). The case study review generated a knowledge platform from which the second method, qualitative interviews, could gather deeper and more applied insights and knowledge. The thesis concludes that, in order to successfully manage obsolescence issues from disruptive technologies, the truck OEM should continuously improve their existing reactive obsolescence management approaches and additionally develop a strategic and proactive framework including early warning indicators to preemptively assess and monitor potential developments leading to obsolescence. Furthermore, five different areas were identified, in which the OEM should implement strategies to develop more effective proactive and strategic obsolescence management: management, knowledge, design considerations, supplier management and innovation. The detection of early warning signals was deemed as critical for management of challenges caused by disruptive technologies. The thesis has concluded concepts and insights that primarily fall within the existing contemporary field of obsolescence management. The main contribution of the thesis is instead focusing on adding and extending the existing knowledge by synthesizing practical and empirical depth of obsolescence management from real-life situations.
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