The impact of advanced manufacturing technology on small Welsh companies
University of Wales
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This research is concerned with the impact of advanced manufacturing technologies on small Welsh companies. The use of technology has been demonstrated to be a mechanism for increasing competitiveness in manufacturing. With increasing global competition, such improvements in competitiveness are important for manufacturers. However, despite the use of such technology being advocated as an important tool in developing competitive advantage, little research has been undertaken into how small companies might utilise such tools. This research draws on the technology adoption experiences of twelve case-study companies to gain an understanding of the impact of such technology and the critical factors that influence successful development. The research is presented in two stages. The first stage is the development of case-studies from interviews with ten manufacturing managers. This is followed by a stage of longitudinal research that observed attempts to introduce advanced manufacturing technology in two further companies over a one- to two-year period. The conclusions of the research demonstrate that for these small companies, availability of support is at least as important as cost. In addition, the study reveals a distinction between inherent and integrated benefits from technology. Inherent benefits refer to a match between company requirements and technology capabilities. Integrated benefits refer to achievable benefits as a result of technology use in a wider system. The case-studies show that these small companies are not employing sophisticated methods of evaluation to assist in selecting technologies. The observations also demonstrate that the companies are failing to properly assess the impacts of their technology investments and are not adequately developing internal support. This research condenses the observed issues into a series of recommendations to assist managers in assessing the impact of AMT and develops recommendations configured into a flowchart for staged consideration of issues at an appropriate level of sophistication for small company use.
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