Managing complex, modular products: how technological uncertainty affects the role of systems integrators in the automotive supply chain

Adrian Coronado Mondragon, Christian E. Coronado Mondragon

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Systems integrators can play a conspicuous role in automotive supply chains. A systems integrator is an organization with the capabilities to incorporate modular systems based on new technologies generated by its suppliers without its direct involvement. This work investigates the role of systems integrators at managing complex products with modular architectures under technological uncertainty in the automotive supply chain. For this research it was decided to rely on existing architecture typology that included high-to-low technological uncertainty in complex, modular products. The research methodology included case studies comprising two segments in the automotive industry. The results of the study show systems integrators in low technological uncertainty, such as coach and bus manufacturing, have to be able to redesign those architectures due to the implementation of unknown technologies in key individual components (i.e. transmission and engine technology). For complex product architectures under high technological uncertainty, the most important source of innovation still lies in the specialization of individual activities. The role of the system integrator in the automotive supply chain is reduced to create basic interfaces for the adaptation and incorporation of untested and uncertain technologies in the overall architecture. OEMs performed the role of systems integrators in this study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6628-6643
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number20
Early online date22 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • systems integrators
  • modularity
  • technology management
  • product architectures
  • supply chains

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