Title: Network-based automation for SMEs

Authors: Mohammad Shahabeddini Parizi; Agnieszka Radziwon

Addresses: Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Aalborg University, Denmark ' Mads Clausen Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Abstract: The implementation of appropriate automation concepts which increase productivity in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) requires a lot of effort, due to their limited resources. Therefore, it is strongly recommended for small firms to open up for the external sources of knowledge, which could be obtained through network interaction. Based on two extreme cases of SMEs representing low-tech industry and an in-depth analysis of their manufacturing facilities this paper presents how collaboration between firms embedded in a regional ecosystem could result in implementation of new automation solutions. The empirical data collection involved application of a combination of comparative case study method with action research elements. This article provides an outlook over the challenges in implementing technological improvements and the way how it could be resolved in collaboration with other members of the same regional ecosystem. The findings highlight two main automation related areas where manufacturing SMEs could leverage on external sources on knowledge - these are assistance in defining automation problem as well as appropriate solution and provider selection. Consequently, this paper develops and discusses a set of guidelines for systematic productivity improvement within an innovative collaboration in regards to automation processes in SMEs.

Keywords: innovative collaboration; small and medium-sized enterprises; manufacturing SMEs; network-based automation; open innovation; regional ecosystems; external knowledge.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBG.2017.081027

International Journal of Business and Globalisation, 2017 Vol.18 No.1, pp.58 - 72

Received: 09 Oct 2015
Accepted: 26 Nov 2015

Published online: 15 Nov 2016 *

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