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Challenges of handling assembly information in global manufacturing companies

Pierre Eric Christian Johansson (GTO Research and Technology Development, Volvo Group, Gothenburg, Sweden) (Department of Industrial and Materials Science, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Lennart Malmsköld (Division of Production Systems, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden)
Åsa Fast-Berglund (Department of Industrial and Materials Science, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Lena Moestam (GTO Research and Technology Development, Volvo Group, Gothenburg, Sweden)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 29 November 2019

Issue publication date: 18 November 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe challenges the manufacturing industry is currently facing when developing future assembly information systems. More specific, this paper focuses on the handling of assembly information from manufacturing engineering to the shop floor operators.

Design/methodology/approach

Multiple case studies have been conducted within one case company between 2014 and 2017. To broaden the perspective, interviews with additionally 17 large and global manufacturing companies and 3 industry experts have been held. Semi-structured interviews have been the main data collection method alongside observations and web questionnaires.

Findings

Six focus areas have been defined which address important challenges in the manufacturing industry. For manual assembly intense manufacturing company, challenges such as IT challenges, process challenges, assembly process disturbances, information availability, technology and process control, and assembly work instructions have been identified and hinder implementation of Industry 4.0 (I4.0).

Originality/value

This longitudinal study provides a current state analysis of the challenges the manufacturing industry is facing when handling assembly information. Despite the vast amount of initiatives within I4.0 and digitalization, this paper argues that the manufacturing industry needs to address the six defined focus areas to become more flexible and prepared for the transition toward a digitalized manufacturing industry.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the academia and companies involved in the research projects GAIS and GAIS 2 (Global Assembly Instruction Strategy). The work has been jointly carried out within Volvo Group Trucks Operations and the Production Area of Advance at Chalmers and sponsored by VINNOVA-FFI (Grant No. 2016-03360). The research activities in this paper have been designed and planned by the corresponding author and conducted in collaboration with different master theses students at Volvo Group Trucks Operations. Their contribution to the research is fully acknowledged.

Citation

Johansson, P.E.C., Malmsköld, L., Fast-Berglund, Å. and Moestam, L. (2020), "Challenges of handling assembly information in global manufacturing companies", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 955-976. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMTM-05-2018-0137

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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