Managing a transformation towards industry 4.0 : A study within the bus manufacturing industry

University essay from Karlstads universitet; Karlstads universitet

Abstract: Prior research suggests that industry 4.0 could bring numerous benefits to firms manufacturing operations. Despite industry 4.0’s overwhelming popularity, there is considerable confusion surrounding how to approach a transformation, and additionally how it will affect organizations. Bus manufacturing has seen minor advancements in initiating change towards industry 4.0 due to characteristics with low volumes, high product varieties, high complexity and a large variety of customer adaptations. This thesis intends to give clarity to the opportunities and challenges that industry 4.0 technologies entail for bus manufacturing operations. Furthermore, contribute with a roadmap for how to manage a transformation towards industry 4.0 directed for bus manufacturing. The thesis was conducted studying a case using the process of systematic combining. Qualitative methods were applied to address the research questions, collecting data from ten interviews with operational- and manufacturing managers. Empirical findings indicate that the characteristics of bus manufacturing influence the industry 4.0 technologies that are applicable and suited for implementation. The findings suggest opportunities in terms of increased production efficiency, improved flexibility and reduced takt times with data management and real-time capabilities from adapting data management, cloud technology and sensors. Other opportunities such as virtualization with digital twin and virtual training were also suggested to enable factory simulations and virtual representations of manufacturing stations. Prominent challenges identified were lack of knowledge regarding industry 4.0 technologies, data analytics, how to motivate investments, system integration and using robotics in the bus manufacturing operations. Furthermore, the proposed roadmap for how bus manufacturing can manage a transformation towards industry 4.0 consists of eight steps that include important factors identified from the study such as vision, determination, barriers, responsibility, consistency and working in small steps. This study’s theoretical contribution is providing knowledge about industry 4.0 in the context of bus manufacturing operations. The findings suggest that knowledge is a primary factor for managing a transformation towards industry 4.0, where educating and engaging personnel could facilitate the change work. Further, the results of this study lend support to the argument that approaching industry 4.0 is dependent on the organization and industry. The study also emphasizes that future research should focus on establishing a uniform definition of industry 4.0, and further examine what the costs for a transformation towards industry 4.0 could necessitate for bus manufacturing operations.

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