In the age of Industry 4.0, digital advancement is reshaping manufacturing models towards product–service systems (PSS). The drivers, readiness and challenges to move to a PSS model are not well understood, and the exploitation of the digital era presents the gap of this research.
The research was conducted using semi-structured interviews in six manufacturers. Two forum debates were also conducted to supplement and validate the findings.
Social and economic motivations rather than environmental considerations were driving the change to PSS. Digital technologies could be an important driver if manufacturers reached a certain PSS maturity level. A high level of technical readiness was offset by a low level of social investments and the strategic development of human resources. Value co-creation was a main challenge though manufacturers had the advantage of digital connectivity, which indicated new human requirements; the greater the enabling power of digital technologies, the greater the need for advanced human skills.
Human resource management has underpinned lean models; yet, the role of employees within PSS is underdeveloped despite the impact of staff in exploiting digitalisation and value co-creation. A “learning organisation” and socio-technical fit are required for the “diffusion of innovation” of PSS.
This research attempted to explore drivers, readiness and challenges for PSS from a socio-technical systems (STS) perspective. Three levels of PSS maturity with STS features were derived from the research, providing guidance for manufacturers.
Li, A., Rich, N., Found, P., Kumar, M. and Brown, S. (2020), "Exploring product–service systems in the digital era: a socio-technical systems perspective", The TQM Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-11-2019-0272Download as .RIS
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