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Additive manufacturing: empirical evidence for supply chain integration and performance from the automotive industry

Mia Delic (Department of Trade and International Business, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia)
Daniel R. Eyers (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Josip Mikulic (Department of Tourism, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Publication date: 19 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Additive Manufacturing offers much potential for industry, but at the same time is likely to have a significant impact on supply chain theory and practice. To-date there has been limited empirical work exploring the effect of Additive Manufacturing, and this study aims to provide a detailed appraisal of how supply chain integration, supply chain performance and firm performance may be affected by the adoption of Additive Manufacturing. These are critical factors for supply chain management, but have received little quantified attention to date.

Design/methodology/approach

A theoretical model is developed from a detailed review of the literature, from which a quantitative analysis is performed. Using data collected from 124 automotive manufacturers in European Union and the partial least square- structural equation modeling method, the research examines the relationships among different dimensions of supply chain integration, supply chain performance and firm performance from the perspective of Additive Manufacturing adoption.

Findings

The findings indicate that Additive Manufacturing adoption positively influences supply chain performance and as a consequence, firm performance. In addition, supporting the resource-based view perspective, the results show a positive indirect effect of supply chain integration on the supply chain and firm performance improvements, enabled by the Additive Manufacturing adoption. This helps to explain some inconsistent findings in previous research regarding the impacts of supply chain integration on performance.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this study support the view that Additive Manufacturing can make a positive contribution to the supply chain, but this is not achieved solely by the technologies alone. Many of the traditional activities of supply chain management (i.e. integration) are still needed when using Additive Manufacturing, and research needs to understand whether Additive Manufacturing adoption will necessitate changes to the way these traditional activities are undertaken. Building on the findings of the current study, much more work is therefore needed to understand how operations within the supply chain may be changed, and how this may affect the integration and performance of the supply chain.

Practical implications

This study provides quantitative evidence to show that the adoption of Additive Manufacturing has the potential to affect both firm and supply chain performance. This is significant for those companies considering the adoption of Additive Manufacturing, and may serve as a valuable insight in the strategic decision-making process. For those already using Additive Manufacturing, this study serves to underline the potential for firm performance to be influenced, by focusing on improvements to their production strategies and policies.

Originality/value

This study provides an initial insight into some fundamental supply chain concepts within an Additive Manufacturing context, which have received very little research attention. It develops a novel conceptual model, and through a large-scale industry survey provides quantified evidence of the impact of Additive Manufacturing on the supply chain. To date, much of the supply chain research is exploratory and qualitative; the quantitative evidence presented in this work, therefore, makes an important and original contribution to both research and practice.

Keywords

Citation

Delic, M., Eyers, D.R. and Mikulic, J. (2019), "Additive manufacturing: empirical evidence for supply chain integration and performance from the automotive industry", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 604-621. https://doi.org/10.1108/SCM-12-2017-0406

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited