Automation Decisions in Manufacturing System Development Projects – The Wood Products Industry Perspective
Keywords:Manufacturing system design, Development project, Manufacturing technology, Decision-making, Empirical research
The implementation of automated solutions in manufacturing commonly involves large investments and high levels of risk. It is therefore important that decisions related to automated solutions are well supported. The maturity level differs across industry sectors, and the wood products industry is in some respects lagging behind. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential challenges the wood products industry is facing related to automation decisions when designing manufacturing systems and suggest tactics, with inspiration from another industrial sector, that can support such decisions. A multiple case study was carried out, involving a development project carried out in the wood products industry and another in the assumingly more mature automotive industry. Automation decisions were studied in the different phases prior to implementation of the physical manufacturing system. The findings showed both similarities and differences across the development projects. For example, in both development projects it was decided to reach out to automation suppliers for automation technology acquisition. However, the decision on to which degree to collaborate with the automation suppliers differed. Based on the similarities and differences pointed out, ideas were put forward that might be supportive for the wood products industry.
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