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Evolving manufacturing mobility in Industry 4.0: the case of process industries

João Barata (Department of Informatics Engineering, Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal)
Paulo Rupino Cunha (Department of Informatics Engineering, Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal)
Sharon Coyle (Business Information Systems, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 26 July 2019

Issue publication date: 23 January 2020



The purpose of this paper is to present an approach to incorporating mobility into continuous manufacturing following the advent of Industry 4.0 (I4.0).


The investigation is based on a year-long canonical action research into a paper-manufacturing company implementing core I4.0 technologies.


The findings show how to: classify manufacturing mobility strategy based on the dimensions of team, task and control; design business processes enabled by mobile cyber–physical resources; involve different stakeholders in modeling mobility; and create a comprehensive guide to assist in implementing the mobile digitalization required by I4.0.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the complexity, richness and depth of the insights obtained in this research for mobility management in process industries, this inquiry was conducted in a single organization.

Practical implications

As the fourth industrial revolution encourages decentralization and increased interaction between humans and machines, this paper presents a model to capture the mobility potential in manufacturing. The tools proposed in this research can be used to steer investments in industry transformations that fuse the physical and digital worlds, overcoming mobility constraints.


Theoretically, this paper expands the concept of manufacturing mobility in I4.0. In practice, it proposes a participative roadmap to assist technology management in increasingly decentralized environments, identifying the intertwined network of cyber–physical actors, processes and services.



Barata, J., Rupino Cunha, P. and Coyle, S. (2020), "Evolving manufacturing mobility in Industry 4.0: the case of process industries", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 52-71.



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