To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Microfactories and the new economies of scale and scope

Jose Orlando Montes (Science, Technologie et Société, Université du Québec, Montreal, Canada)
F. Xavier Olleros (École des Sciences de la Gestion, Université du Québec, Montreal, Canada)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 17 June 2019

Issue publication date: 23 January 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the microfactory model, the elements that enable it and its implications. The authors argue that microfactories reduce the risks and costs of innovation and that they can move various industries toward more local, adaptive and sustainable business ecosystems.

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual paper explores several processes and practices that are relatively new; hence, it uses online secondary sources (e.g. interviews with CEOs, videos, blogs and trade magazine articles) extensively.

Findings

Given its versatility and high automation levels, the microfactory model can fill the gap between artisanal and mass production processes, boost the rate of innovation, and enable the local on-demand fabrication of customized products.

Practical implications

Currently, manufacturers generally need to make large investments when launching a new product, despite high uncertainty about customer acceptance, thus risking considerable losses. The microfactory model offers a safer alternative by allowing a firm to develop and fabricate new products and test their acceptance in a local market before mass producing them. Microfactories also enable the local on-demand fabrication of highly customized products.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the discussion on the economic advantages and disadvantages of scale and scope, which have been insufficiently explored in the digital domain.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest in this research piece.

Citation

Montes, J.O. and Olleros, F.X. (2020), "Microfactories and the new economies of scale and scope", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 72-90. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMTM-07-2018-0213

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited