Critical enablers of changeable and reconfigurable manufacturing and their industrial implementation

Ann-Louise Andersen, Jesper Kranker Larsen, Thomas Ditlev Brunø, Kjeld Nielsen, Christopher Ketelsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: During design of reconfigurable manufacturing systems, manufacturing companies need to select and implement the right enablers of reconfigurability in accordance with the specific requirements being present in the manufacturing setting. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate enablers of reconfigurability in terms of their importance in industry, current level of implementation in industry, and significant differences in their implementation and criticality across different manufacturing settings. Design/methodology/approach: A questionnaire survey is conducted, in order to provide generalizable empirical evidence across various industries and manufacturing types. Findings: The findings indicate that the level of implementation of the reconfigurability enablers is rudimentary, while their criticality is perceived higher than the current level of implementation. Moreover, significant differences regarding implementation and criticality of mobility, scalability, and convertibility were found for companies with varying degrees of manual work, make-to-stock production, and varying production volume, industry type and organization size. Research limitations/implications: Main limitations of the research cover the relatively small sample size and non-random sampling method applied, primarily limited to one country, which could be increased to further extent the findings reported in this paper. Practical implications: The findings indicate that the importance and implementation of reconfigurability enablers is contingent on the manufacturing setting. Thus, the research presented in this paper provides valuable knowledge in regard to aiding a paradigm shift in industry and help companies design manufacturing systems with the right reconfigurability enablers. Originality/value: This paper expands research on manufacturing system design for changeability and reconfigurability, by explicitly considering these as capabilities that can be enabled in various ways for various purposes in different manufacturing contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Technology Management
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)983-1002
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Flexible manufacturing systems
  • Manufacturing flexibility
  • Manufacturing management
  • Modular production
  • Questionnaires


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