A smart manufacturing adoption framework for SMEs
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Smart Manufacturing (SM) a revolutionary paradigm that aims to improve production systems’ performance in terms of quality, time, cost, and flexibility, as well as human and machine decision-making capabilities. Most large enterprises have already taken first steps towards adopting SM. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) on the other hand, are struggling with developing a SM adoption roadmap. Our research builds on the real and perceived needs and challenges faced by manufacturing SMEs and advances the field by developing and evaluating an SME-specific ‘SM adoption framework’. We have employed a multiple case study approach to acknowledge the lessons learned by selected early-adopter SMEs that have recently implemented and deployed SM tools and practices. We propose an SM adoption framework with five vital steps that SMEs interested in SM should follow: (i) identify manufacturing data available within the SME, (ii) readiness assessment of the SME data-hierarchy steps, (iii) developing SM awareness of SME leadership and staff, (iv) develop a SM tailored vision for the SMEs, and (v) identify appropriate SM tools and practices necessary to realise the tailored SM vision. Moreover, the results of the case study analysis enabled us to formulate many generalisations.