Digitalization of Manufacturing: Chasing visualization boards providing functionality to handle contemporary shop floor tasks

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis


Technological evolution has supported economic growth in manufacturing for more than 250 years. Manufacturing is evolving, and it is bound to take place in different forms. To drive this industrial revolution, several strategies have been launched. At current, one such strategy is Industry 4.0 (I4.0). I4.0 is presenting a technology-driven agenda in which data availability to ensure interoperability across boundaries internally and externally within the manufacturing is on focus. By taking advantage of current and emerging digital technologies, the promise of I4.0 is to generate value either by improving existing processes or enabling new ones. When the I4.0 agenda was first introduced in 2011, many researchers discussed the related “new” technologies and their impact on manufacturing by presenting practical use cases identifying positive and negative side effects. However, prescriptive knowledge regarding completing a digital transformation has leapfrogged the shop floor level. Moreover, several researchers within the operations management (OM) domain claim that the ongoing technological development presented by I4.0 has increased the complexity of current production system, providing new demands for facilitating shop floor management (SFM). During this three-year study, several companies considered digital frontrunners have contributed with practical use cases of presenting their struggles to complete a digital transition of SFM visualization boards (VB) to handle related shop floor tasks. This PhD project aims to address these related issues, proving a normative theory for guiding the digital transition. To do so and to make a contribution to both literature and practice, the research is founded on two pillars:

• Exploration to clarify the current understanding of the research topic, which accounts for the comprehensive empirical foundation, adopting a task-technology-theory perspective to identify the functionalities for a VB to handle contemporary shop floor tasks.

• Explanation to clarify the desired state of the research topic by analyzing the empirical data within testing and evaluating the developed solutions to contribute with theoretical and practical implications.

This dissertation represents a collection of four appended papers, which in their combined form, present the progression of the research activities accomplished during the three years. All four papers are empirically driven and have been performed in collaboration with the industry to conduct a research project that reflects the practical realities in manufacturing to match the need for proving rigorous academic contribution and relevant guidelines for practitioners. The close collaboration with the industry provided the opportunity to empirically test and evaluate digital SFM VBs. The related findings ensured that this dissertation contributes to the OM research domain, mainly to its technology management knowledge bases, by discussing the interplay between the digital transformation of shop floors and the usability of VBs in two main ways. First, by highlighting relevant insights concerning the digital transformation of manufacturing shop floors, such as the forces for and against a digital transition of SFM VBs, and by demonstrating the usability of current VBs. Secondly, by proposing four prerequisites for developing digitalized VBs providing functionality to handle contemporary shop floor tasks.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Business Development and Technology, Aarhus University
Number of pages178
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes
SeriesPhD Dissertation


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