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Digitalization priorities of quality control processes for SMEs: a conceptual study in perspective of Industry 4.0 adoption

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Digitalization is an opportunity for manufacturing SMEs to transform, not only for the flexibility and agility, but also for improved responsiveness in meeting customer requirements. Quality, being an integral part of customer-orientation, needs to be at the forefront of transformation under digitalization. Also, the digitalization is the need of the hour for continuous improvement to avoid disparity between paper-based quality practices and the digitalized engineering value chain. In this research article, authors intend to address the digitalization priorities of quality practices for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in perspective of adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies. From the literature survey, authors observed that, there is extensive literature available regarding quality and its relevance for continuous improvement, while research insights regarding integration of quality practices in a digital environment are limited and even if considered, they have not been studied holistically. Authors have examined the available research to assimilate the effect of current market trends on quality practices. They have undertaken a survey of prevailing quality maturity in manufacturing SMEs. In current study, authors have understood the need of digitalization of quality processes and propose the priority digital approaches that can guide SMEs with a holistic view of transformation including quality. The key findings based on proposed approaches for adopting digital quality processes are: Firstly, to address the challenges of shorter time-to-market, increased complexity, flexibility and innovation, SMEs need to adopt digitalization across the PDCA quality cycle. Secondly, digitalization of quality practices needs to be considered holistically across value chain. Thirdly, five processes have been prioritized for digitalization based on their adoption maturity i.e. design for quality, compliance, incoming & outgoing goods control, statistical process control and complaint management. Based on finding of this study authors recommend that manufacturing SMEs take cognizance of these findings and adopt digital quality to successfully thrive in the emerging global market.

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Correspondence to Gautam Dutta.

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Appendix A

Appendix A

See Table 3.

Table 3 Survey response criteria for digital adoption

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Dutta, G., Kumar, R., Sindhwani, R. et al. Digitalization priorities of quality control processes for SMEs: a conceptual study in perspective of Industry 4.0 adoption. J Intell Manuf 32, 1679–1698 (2021).

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