Demystifying the effectiveness in design of production systems - Investigating the coupling between acquisition and maintenance of equipment
Licentiate thesis, 2021

The purpose of the design of production systems is to create systems that perform according to set targets. With the paradigm shift towards electrification and digitalisation, manufacturing engineers in the heavy truck powertrain industry face several unexplored challenges; in the products for which they are designing production, in the equipment they are purchasing to realise production systems, and finally, in the digitalisation impact on engineering processes. Further, there is a lack of empirical studies on the performance of production system design, measured as the performance of production systems when they are in operation. Understanding performance of design is vital in order to identify and implement correct improvement measures. 
To investigate the performance of production system design, this thesis presents comparative case studies from powertrain manufacturing engineering in a large heavy truck company. The focus is on the equipment acquisition process and its impact on the performance of the purchased equipment and specifically equipment breakdown cost due to design weakness. The investigation was performed both quantitatively, comparing breakdown costs for newly acquired equipment to equipment nearing their end of life, and qualitatively, comparing the ability to prevent breakdowns in four re-purchasing acquisition projects. The thesis shows that: 1) maintenance cost per machine is increasing during the initial phase of the life cycle; 2) new machinery have higher breakdown costs than the end-of-life machines; 3) the design weakness share of maintenance problems unexpectedly only increases during the initial phase of the life cycle. The conclusion is that the engineering process studied does not become more effective over time.
The main barriers to effective design of production systems are found to be connected to how knowledge flows internally and externally in the organisation, and more specifically during the organisational and individual dimensions, rather than the technological aspect. Further research in knowledge management is recommended as well as a study of how digitalisation might benefit the production system design engineering community from a socio-technological point of view.

early equipment management

maintenance management

engineering knowledge management

manufacturing engineering

equipment acquisition

production system design

Sunnanvinden, Hörsalsvägen, Chalmers University of Technology, Johanneberg, Gothenburg
Opponent: Monica Bellgran, KTH


Malin Hane Hagström

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Product Development

Hane Hagström, M., Bergsjö, D., Sathyanarayana, A., Machado, C. (in review). Visualising wastes and losses in automotive production flows (across multiple plants and organisations) for increased accuracy in improvement prioritisations

Hane Hagström, M., Bergsjö, D., Martinsson, H., Blomberg, J., (in review). Reducing professional maintenance losses in production by efficient knowledge management in machine acquisitions


VINNOVA (2017-03059), 2017-10-09 -- 2019-10-08.

KIDSAM: Knowledge and information-sharing in digital collaborative projects

VINNOVA (2018-03966), 2018-11-01 -- 2021-11-30.

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Other Mechanical Engineering

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance




Sunnanvinden, Hörsalsvägen, Chalmers University of Technology, Johanneberg, Gothenburg

Opponent: Monica Bellgran, KTH

More information

Latest update