Investing in Industry 4.0 is an important consideration for manufacturing firms who strive to remain competitive in this global economy, but the uncertainty and complexity of where to focus technology investments is a problem facing many manufacturers. The purpose of this paper is to highlight a region of manufacturing firms in the Midwest USA to investigate the role of firm size, access to funds and industry type on decision to invest in and deploy various Industry 4.0 technologies.
A survey was developed, piloted, and deployed to manufacturing companies located in the Midwest USA, specifically, Indiana, USA. A total of 138 manufacturing firms completed the full survey. The survey participants were requested to rank order the various technology categories with respect to previous historical spending, workforce capabilities and anticipated return on investment. The survey was supplemented with publically available data. Due to the use of rank-order data to identify Industry 4.0 priorities, a non-parametric analysis was completed using the Kruskall Wallis test.
The findings suggest that manufacturers with less than 20 employees and/or less access to funds (sales less than $10m) prioritize digital factory floor technologies (e.g. technology directly impacting productivity, quality and safety of manufacturing processes). Larger manufacturers with 20 or more employees and/or access to more funds (sales greater than or equal to $10m) prioritize enterprise support operations technologies.
Research studies and reports tend to lump manufacturing’s perspective of Industry 4.0 into one homogenous group, and rarely acknowledge the limited participation of “smaller” Small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for the far majority of manufacturing firms in the USA. The value of this study is on the “novelty of approach,” in that the data collection and analysis focuses on heterogeneity of manufacturing firms with respect to size, access to funds and industry type. The findings and recommendations are beneficial and relevant to organizations supporting Industry 4.0 efforts through workforce development and economic development initiatives.
Bosman, L., Hartman, N. and Sutherland, J. (2019), "How manufacturing firm characteristics can influence decision making for investing in Industry 4.0 technologies", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 1117-1141. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMTM-09-2018-0283Download as .RIS
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