Industry 4.0 and the Food Manufacturing Industry: A Conceptual Framework
Abstract: Background: The manufacturing industry is diverting away from the one-size-fits-all mass manufacture towards more customized processes. With increasingly individualized consumer preferences and an intense competitive environment, food manufacturers are required to meet specific consumer demands with similar efficiency to those produced massively. Such market requirements are feasible with the technological advancements envisioned by Industry 4.0. The consequences of such are increased flexibility and mass customization in manufacturing which forces the food manufacturer towards its realization. The integration process, however, involves a comprehensive transformation that affects every aspect of the organization. This consequently imposes significant challenges upon the food manufacturing company. Purpose: The study aims to investigate the transformation process ensued by the food manufacturer for Industry 4.0. Consequently, a conceptual framework is developed detailing the application of Industry 4.0 in the food manufacturing industry. Method: An inductive qualitative approach, in combination with a multiple-case study, is pursued to address the formulated questions of research. Based on such, semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals representing three multinational food manufacturers. Further, a thematic analytical technique was adopted as means to identify similarities and patterns within the obtained data. The collected data was analyzed using thematic analysis through which the researchers came up with the conceptual framework. Conclusion: The results of the research reveal internal and external factors such as labor policies and IT infrastructure to influence the transformation process for Industry 4.0. In due to this, the implementation of the phenomenon occurs phase-wise, globally coordinated and regionally concentrated. This enables the organization to overcome the obstacles faced and, subsequently, ensure the successful deployment of Industry 4.0.
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