Horizontal cooperation is of great interest for the logistics sector: Cooperation not only offers new possibilities for logistics companies to meet customer demand and thus improve their service. It also helps the participating logistics companies to face environmental requirements imposed by policy makers. Furthermore, sharing available resources allows for the reduction of costs and enables the generation of synergies which lead to economies of scale. Therefore, horizontal cooperation is especially of interest for small and medium sized logistics service providers, who are often restricted by limited financial power, as cooperation allows for sharing of necessary investments and risks among partners.
Especially in the context of urban logistics, cooperative concepts such as urban consolidation centers and multi-user warehouses have already been identified as a promising field of research. The city logistics sector is characterized by a large number of small and heterogeneous stakeholders. Yet, rising cost for land and real estates in urban areas and the resulting logistics sprawl depict a rising challenge for small and medium sized logistics service providers which can be met by forming horizontal cooperations.
Furthermore, the individual behavior of partners and their role within the cooperation must be addressed for the development of a functional cooperation. In case of the order picking process, user behavior in terms of the time and amount of orders placed by users to be picked from the warehouse is of interest. Especially if resources for order picking are limited, order placement is assumed to have a strong influence on picking times of all users within the warehouse.
To investigate the influence of different order placement behavior and to answer the research questions, an agent-based simulation model with discrete event elements has been developed using the software AnyLogic 8. An agent-based simulation is considered most suitable for investigating the complex interdependencies inside a multi-user warehouse as it is able to model the behavior of multiple heterogenic actors and allows for analyzing the effects on the overall system.