The purpose of this study is to explore how Industry 4.0 (I40) technologies support workers' engagement in soft total quality management (TQM) practices for organisational performance.
The authors conducted a multiple case study of six Italian manufacturing organisations that operate with I40 production and implement TQM practices. The authors concentrated on the relationship between I40 technologies and soft TQM aspects.
I40 technologies provide two forms of engagement with workers. Workers can act as machine supervisors and expert assembly operators. Organisations use five soft TQM practices to involve and develop workers for TQM that vary according to automation levels. The five soft TQM practices are top management design around workers, incremental trials with I40 technologies, worker empowerment, I40 sociotechnical collaboration and individual feedback systems.
In the literature that focusses primarily on how I40 technologies support the hard side of TQM by creating a data-driven and automated quality management system, the authors illustrate how the workforce can be engaged in I40 with five soft TQM practices to improve organisational performance. Thus, the authors complement the theory of hard and soft TQM aspects for I40 production systems.
Margherita, E.G. and Braccini, A.M. (2022), "The impact of Industry 4.0 technologies and the soft side of TQM on organisational performance: a multiple case study analysis on manufacturing organisations", The TQM Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-01-2022-0022
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