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Acting in concert leads to success: how to implement Industry 4.0 effectively across companies

Johannes W. Veile (Chair of Industrial Management, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Nürnberg, Germany)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 28 June 2022

Issue publication date: 25 August 2023




The purpose of the study is to shed light on how to implement Industry 4.0 effectively across companies in buyer–supplier relationships.


The study follows an exploratory research design and analyzes qualitative empirical data of eight case companies from the German automotive industry. The data are inductively categorized to uncover patterns and structures in a qualitative content analysis, whereupon a deeper data structure is developed.


The research reveals that a comprehensive implementation approach is required to pave the way for digitalized and interconnected supply chains. Several challenges occur during the implementation, such as system heterogeneity and resource scarcity. Prerequisites and fundamentals for a successful implementation include a vision and strategy, management involvement, and sufficient resources. Lastly, indications on how to conduct the implementations were found.

Research limitations/implications

The study is based on an exploratory methodology, analyzing data from the German automotive industry. The methodology entails some limitations, and caution must be given when transferring the results to different industries and national contexts. Future studies could complement the findings by studying different contexts and including further supply chain levels.

Practical implications

Managers and practitioners can study the recurring themes in the implementation approaches and the best practices and subsequently learn from the experiences. This knowledge could aid to shape the strategy of companies accordingly.


The study empirically sheds light on the Industry 4.0 implementation approach across companies in buyer–supplier relationships and helps to understand the success factors and underlying mechanisms.



Veile, J.W. (2023), "Acting in concert leads to success: how to implement Industry 4.0 effectively across companies", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 1245-1275.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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