Smart Maintenance: an empirically grounded conceptualization
Journal article, 2019
How do modernized maintenance operations, often referred to as “Smart Maintenance”, impact the performance of manufacturing plants? The inability to answer this question backed by data is a problem for industrial maintenance management, especially in light of the ongoing rapid transition towards an industrial environment with pervasive digital technologies. To this end, this paper, which is the first part of a two-paper series, aims to investigate and answer the question, “What is Smart Maintenance?”. The authors deployed an empirical, inductive research approach to conceptualize Smart Maintenance using focus groups and interviews with more than 110 experts from over 20 different firms. By viewing our original data through the lens of multiple general theories, our findings chart new directions for contemporary and future maintenance research. This paper describes empirical observations and theoretical interpretations cumulating in the first empirically grounded definition of Smart Maintenance and its four underlying dimensions; data-driven decision-making, human capital resource, internal integration, and external integration. In addition, the relationships between the underlying dimensions are specified and the concept structure formally modeled. This study thus achieves concept clarity with respect to Smart Maintenance, thereby making several theoretical and managerial contributions that guide both scholars and practitioners within the field of industrial maintenance management.