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Profiling company-generic production capabilities in the process industries and strategic implications
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Materials Science and Engineering.
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Materials Science and Engineering.
2016 (English)In: Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, ISSN 1741-038X, E-ISSN 1758-7786, Vol. 27, no 5, 662-691 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - A robust description of the material transformation system is fundamental for understanding its capabilities and thus for communicating, prioritising and changing the system. Deploying a previously developed configuration model the purpose of this paper is to test the industrial usability of the model as an instrument to gain a better understanding of the material transformation system through externalising the generic production capabilities of the system. Design/methodology/approach - In a multiple case study approach and using a prior conceptual configuration model of the material transformation system in the process industries as a research instrument, company-generic production capabilities were investigated in three companies representing the mineral, food and steel industries. Findings - The empirical results supported the utility of the model as an instrument in providing a coherent set of elements that define operations and thus serve as a platform to model company-generic production capabilities and serve as input to strategizing though implicating needed change to the material transformation system. The theoretical contribution was mainly the empirical validation of the previously developed conceptual model as a tool in knowledge formation of the capabilities of the system and to outline the concept of "production capabilities configuration". Research limitations/implications - Three sectors of the process industries were studied but it is recommended that the results should be replicated in complementary case studies or a survey of larger samples from the process industries. Those studies should not only be limited to increase the empirical knowledge base, but possibly to identify additional new variables, further refine the set of variables in the present model and investigate their relationships. Practical implications - It is argued that the model can already be used as a tool to support both horizontal and vertical communication on production capabilities, thus facilitating, e.g. manufacturing strategy development. Originality/value - The validated conceptual model supported by the empirical evidence is new knowledge to be used in the analysis of company-generic production capabilities in the process industries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2016. Vol. 27, no 5, 662-691 p.
Keyword [en]
Strategizing, Capability, Configuration modelling, Process industries, Production system
National Category
Materials Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-193268DOI: 10.1108/JMTM-06-2015-0042ISI: 000381441400003Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84978196279OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-193268DiVA: diva2:1033578
Note

QC 20161007

Available from: 2016-10-07 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Management of technology in the process industries:  Matching market and machine
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Management of technology in the process industries:  Matching market and machine
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The process industries span multiple industrial sectors and constitute a substantial part of the entire manufacturing industry. Since companies belonging to this family of industries are often very asset intensive, their ability to respond to changes is often limited in the short term.

The adaptation of the capabilities of existing processes, and conversely finding products and market segments to match the production system capabilities, are an important part of product- and market development activities in the process industry. The importance to companies in the process industry of having a well-articulated manufacturing strategy congruent with the business strategy is second to none. However, to facilitate manufacturing strategy developments, it is essential to start with an improved characterization and understanding of the material transformation system.

To that end an extensive set of variables was developed and related measures and scales were defined. The resulting configuration model, focusing on company generic process capabilities in the process industries, is to be regarded as a conceptual taxonomy and as a proposition available for further testing. The usability of the model was subsequently assessed using “mini-cases” in the forestry industry, where the respondents confirmed that the company’s overall strategy could benefit from this kind of platform as a possible avenue to follow.

The model was deployed as an instrument in the profiling of company material transformation systems to facilitate the further development of companies' functional and business strategies. The use of company-generic production capabilities was studied in three case companies representing the mineral, food and steel industries. The model was found by the respondents to be usable as a knowledge platform to develop production strategies. In the final analysis of the research results, a new concept emerged called “production capability configuration":

A process-industrial company’s alignment of its generic production capabilities in the areas of raw materials, process technology and products to improve the consistency among the variable elements that define operations and improve the congruence between operations and its environment.

From the perspective of value creation and capture, firms must be able to manufacture products in a competitive cost structure within the framework of a proper business model. By using the configuration model, the relationship between manufacturing and innovation activities has been studied in the previously mentioned three case studies.

In many cases the gap in capability appears as a limitation in the production system, requiring development efforts and sometimes investments to overcome. This is illustrated with two examples from the steel industry, where development efforts of the production system capabilities are initiated to better match the market demands. One example is the increase the volume- and product flexibility of an existing stainless steel melt shop, resulting in a proposed oblong Argon Oxygen Decarburisation (AOD) converter configuration that was subsequently verified using water modelling. The second example is from a carbon steel mill, where the target was to increase the raw material- and volume flexibility of another melt shop, by modifying the capabilities of the Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). Enabling EAF technologies are further described and evaluated using operational data and engineering type of estimates. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2017. 59 p.
Keyword
process industries, manufacturing, innovation, configuration, strategizing, capability, configuration modelling, process industries, production system, physical modelling, AOD, converter geometry, injection, mixing times, electric arc furnace, EAF, post-combustion, high-impedance, network disturbances, operational results
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Metallurgical process science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-199705 (URN)978-91-7729-256-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-02-02, KTH - room B2, Brinellvägen 23, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20170116

Available from: 2017-01-16 Created: 2017-01-14 Last updated: 2017-01-16Bibliographically approved

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