The John Deere Works Mannheim are Germany's biggest manufacturer and exporter of agricultural tractors with approximately 2 500 employees. In an effort to cope with difficult market conditions in the early nineties, a fundamental re-organisation of the factory was set up. The former 'monolithic' factory was divided into Focus Factories for the essential business processes: Drive train production, and tractor assembly. The hierarchical structure was changed from former seven to now four hierarchy levels between General Manager and employee. Groupwork was introduced on a large scale, starting in the productive departments (were this introduction is almost completed by now), with more and more groups in the administrative departments following. Administrative processes, which used to be organised in a centralistic fashion, are now to some extent de-centralised and integrated into the Focus Factories or even the basic production units, called 'modules'.
One of these processes is production planning. In a first step, production planning units were established on a Focus Factory level. However, it became evident that a further de-centralisation of some planning processes was necessary to support the new structure of the factory. This implies two things: Integration of some planning tasks into the shopfloor workgroups, and reorganisation of the work of the technical experts in a more module-oriented