Sub-Themes > Track 6: Engineering, Technology, Supply Chain and Knowledge Management in the Era of Digitalization

Engineering, Technology, Supply Chain and Knowledge Management in the Era of Digitalization

Convenors/Track chairs:

  • Ralph Riedel, Professur Fabrikplanung und Fabrikbetrieb, Fakultät für Maschinenbau, Institut für Betriebswissenschaften und Fabriksysteme (IBF), Chemnitz University of Technology (TUC), Germany
  • Micheline Naude, Supply Chain Management, Faculty of Law and Management, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Affiliated Journal: Special Issue for International Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management

Description: Traditionally engineering has been the discipline that was responsible for the development and design of innovative and functional physical artefacts and the necessary technological processes to produce them. Hereby, engineering has always laid the foundation of a society’s prosperity. Nowadays, the game is about to change: new information and communication technologies lead to new technological opportunities, to new challenges and to new players on the market-side. Products are merely differentiated by software, rather than hardware functionality, business models are based on data driven processes and services and customers are increasingly interested in being involved in design and production processes.

Therefore, digitalization (or digital transformation) and Industry 4.0 will have enormous impacts on the way products are designed, produced, delivered and used. These disruptive technologies will transform production and business models in almost every industry globally. The products that consumers demand, factory processes, carbon footprints and the management of supply chains will be reshaped to an unprecedented degree and at an unprecedented pace.

Work content, work organization, working conditions, qualification profiles will change. At the same time digitalization provides opportunities to cope with the lack of specialists, with the change in values, with increased market dynamics and requirements for resource efficiency. As a consequence, enterprises, especially in the industry sector, need the ability to master those challenges and opportunities by developing and realizing appropriate strategies that cover not only operational resp. functional capabilities but that also need to consider some basic and dynamic capabilities as well as underlying culture.

Industry 4.0 creates an intelligent industry that is coined as ’Smart‘. A smart factory is a flexible system that can self-optimize performance across a wide network, self-adapt to and learn from new conditions in real or near-real time, and autonomously run entire production processes. The benefits of Smart factories extend beyond physical production of goods and into functions such as planning, supply chain logistics, and even product development.

Therefore, smart factories will impact greatly on the way products are designed, produced, delivered and used. In addition, as the costs of adopting technology decrease, international differentials in employment costs will no longer be a factor in choosing the location of production. Business leaders will need to understand the changing environment and innovate appropriately.

In the respective conference track the subject of digitalization will be illuminated from different perspectives, whereas especially interdisciplinary and holistic (i.e. covering humans, technology and organization) approaches should be highlighted. We welcome concrete approaches for solving the digital transformation, based on a case study approach just as methods or general framework that could provide guidelines for the digital transformation. We further encourage contributions that include the following subjects:

  • Key Industry 4.0 technologies and their impact on the supply chain
  • The current initiatives of the smart factories in industry 4.0
  • The impact of Industry 4.0 on supply chains
  • The main characteristics of Smart factories with a focus on sustainability
  • The implications of Smart factories for the environment


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