Sustainability transition of production systems in the digital era - a systems perspective for building resilient and sustainable production systems
Licentiate thesis, 2021
The purpose of this thesis is to support the advancement of resilient production systems which can overcome sustainability challenges in the Industry 4.0 era. Hence, the thesis aims to investigate: (i) the systemic challenges of manufacturing companies which hinder their sustainability transition process and (ii) the mechanisms by which a systems perspective may be applied to support the transition. A mixed-methods approach was used to carry out the research, using qualitative and quantitative data from three (empirical and theoretical) studies.
Applying a systems perspective helped reveal the challenges which hinder the sustainability transition of production systems. Understanding the production ‘system’ as a whole (and the underlying web of intricate dependencies and challenges in production operations) required this holistic perspective. Regarding the challenges, it was observed that manufacturing industries across different domains face three main types of challenge: internal (such as organisational routines, strategies and cultural mindset), external (such as regulations and collaboration with stakeholders) and technological (such as maturity levels and data).
Three different enabling mechanisms were explored which may help overcome the above sustainability challenges and support the sustainability transition of manufacturing industries: (1) Industry 4.0 technologies, (2) dynamic capabilities and (3) resilience engineering. It was observed that Industry 4.0 technologies (such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, virtual development tools and sensors) are largely implemented to enable sustainable manufacturing in the form of resource efficiency and waste reduction. The results also revealed five microfoundations of dynamic capabilities – communication, organisation, resources, collaboration and technology. Based on Industry 4.0 opportunities to promote sustainability transitions, the results revealed five industrial resilience factors – robustness, agility, resourcefulness, adaptability and flexibility.
This research contributes to theory by studying the convergence of emergent research topics, such as Industry 4.0, dynamic capabilities and resilience engineering in the context of sustainability transitions. In terms of a practical contribution, the sustainability transitions model developed in this thesis may support industrial practitioners in gaining a holistic understanding of the systemic challenges to sustainability, plus corresponding mechanisms to promote the sustainability transition of industries and the building of resilient production systems.
Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Production Systems
Twinning for Industrial Sustainability (TRUST)
European Commission (EC) (EC/H2020/810764), 2018-10-01 -- 2022-06-30.
Big Data Value Spaces for COmpetitiveness of European COnnected Smart FacTories 4.0 (BOOST 4.0)
European Commission (EC) (EC/H2020/780732), 2018-01-01 -- 2020-12-31.
Enabling REuse, REmanufacturing and REcycling Within INDustrial systems (REWIND)
VINNOVA (2019-00787), 2019-03-01 -- 2022-02-28.
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Areas of Advance
Virtual Development Laboratory (VDL), Chalmers University of Technology
Opponent: Ala Arvidsson, Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden