Developing Strategic Leadership and Innovation Capability for Manufacturing SMEs Transitioning to Digital Manufacturing Technology

Developing Strategic Leadership and Innovation Capability for Manufacturing SMEs Transitioning to Digital Manufacturing Technology

Roderick Walden, Stefan Lie, Berto Pandolfo, Anton Nemme
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1108-4.ch007
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Strategic leadership and the development of innovation capability is of critical importance for product design and manufacturing as emerging digital technologies increasingly challenge conventional practice. This chapter presents research intended to provide manufacturing SMEs and product designers with an understanding of the complexities associated with the introduction of advanced manufacturing technologies as part of the transition to Industry 4.0. An included case study describes a university-industry collaboration design project articulating product designs role in developing strategic leadership and innovation capability for SMEs in an era of digitalisation. The chapter provides tangible ways forward for manufacturing SMEs transitioning to additive manufacturing (AM) technology, operationalising a combination of theoretical positions proposed in academic discourse. These include the need to adopt empowering leadership styles, the value of collective entrepreneurship, and the nature of creative process engagement for the generation of ideas and alternatives for AM transition.
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Advancing digitization of the manufacturing sector is in large part referred to as a transition to Industry 4.0. Where Industry 3.0 represents the era of automation and computing, Industry 4.0 represents digitization of the wider manufacturing system - a connected network of operations that is designed to be far more flexible, adaptable and responsive to changes across a range of factors that includes, but not limited to, evolving consumer needs and technology advances. The transition to Industry 4.0 is considered important for maintaining competitive advantage in a globalised market. Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing is an emerging group of digital technologies that produce physical 3D objects directly from computer models in polymers, ceramics or metals (Ford, 2014). AM has been described as an ‘intelligent production system’ and part of the move to Industry 4.0 (Dilberoglu et al. 2017). Typically, manufactured products are made from parts moulded or cast in large expensive machines, designed to produce the part repeatedly in the most efficient way. AM does not require this machinery and provides a seamless link between the design as created on the computer and holding the physical item in your hand.

Key Terms in this Chapter

3D Printing: Three-dimensional printing.

Topology Optimisation: A computer-aided design process that uses mathematical methods to optimise material layout within a given design space, for a given set of loads, boundary conditions and constraints with the goal of maximizing the performance of the system or parts thereof.

Prototypes: The construction of parts that resemble production versions, for the purpose of testing the performance of those parts under various conditions.

End-User: The group of people for whom the product is intended to be used by.

Low Volume Production: This refers to number of units produced during a production run where low volume production can be between 1 and 1000 units produced.

R&D: Research and development.

Generative Design: A CAD process that through software applications generates optimised variations of a part based on design inputs such as boundary volumes and load-case data.

Design for Manufacture: The practice of designing and optimising products and parts thereof in such a way that they are cost effective to be manufactured in high volumes.

Design-Led Research: A knowledge-directed research methodology that integrates design practices, processes and tools to investigate what can be learned through practitioner action (direct intervention often by the researcher themselves). As an example, the construction of prototypes, in connection with other methods, as a means of knowledge-directed enquiry is a common form of design-led research evident in the design research literature.

IPDR: Integrated Product Design Research Unit at the University of Technology Sydney.

SME: Small to medium enterprise. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines a small to medium sized business as employing between 5 and 199 employees that has annual revenue turnover of less than $10 million Australian dollars.

End-Use Product: A product that is to be used as a real product for its intended use.

CAD: Computer aided design. Software applications used to create accurate, virtual three-dimensional representations of products and parts thereof. In product design and manufacturing, CAD software can be used to generate production data so that the parts can be fabricated directly using computer-controlled machines, as is the case with additive manufacturing technology.

Polymer: A substance which has a molecular structure built up chiefly or completely from a large number of similar units bonded together, e.g. many synthetic organic materials used as plastics and resins.

Lattice Structure: A three-dimensional space-filling unit cell that can be tessellated along any axis with no gaps between cells, similar to biological open-cell structures such as bones. Additive manufacturing is the only manufacturing method able to produce cost effective lattice structures by infilling a part rather than printing it as a solid.

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