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Exploring Socially Sustainable, Smart Manufacturing – Building Bridges Over Troubled Waters

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Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing: Establishing Bridges for More Sustainable Manufacturing Systems (FAIM 2023)


Contemporary manufacturing organizations formulate strategies towards smart manufacturing. However, strategies often merely regard technological improvements of working processes and activities and pay limited attention to human-centric perspectives. This study addresses the complex phenomenon of reaching socially sustainable smart manufacturing by exploring the human-centric perspectives in the eras of Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0. Data were collected through an explorative qualitative case study with focus groups applying the history wall approach to document informants’ choices of activities that impact digitalization. To investigate informants’ interpretations and experiences of digital initiatives and prospects, the history wall approach was coupled with the analytical lens of the co-workership wheel, with its four conceptual pairs: trust and openness, community spirit and cooperation, engagement and meaningfulness, responsibility, and initiative. A total of 17 informants from different organizational levels at a case company participated. Activities, impacting digitalization, brought forward were grouped into technology, organization, and external impact. Results showed that human-centric and intangible perspectives surfaced as prerequisites when navigating industrial digitalization. Further, digital initiatives and prospects risk drowning in re-occurring organizational changes making successful implementation difficult. Thus, organizations cannot rely solely on technology, but must consider activities related to organizational aspects and impacts from the external environment, when introducing digital initiatives. Intrinsically, recognition of the co-workership concept, emphasizing human-centricity, can support the foundation necessary for bridging the gap towards socially sustainable smart manufacturing and strengthening the emerging I5.0 research.

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Correspondence to Kristina M. Eriksson .

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Eriksson, K.M., Carlsson, L., Olsson, A.K. (2024). Exploring Socially Sustainable, Smart Manufacturing – Building Bridges Over Troubled Waters. In: Silva, F.J.G., Ferreira, L.P., Sá, J.C., Pereira, M.T., Pinto, C.M.A. (eds) Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing: Establishing Bridges for More Sustainable Manufacturing Systems. FAIM 2023. Lecture Notes in Mechanical Engineering. Springer, Cham.

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