The research project FIF is a partnership between universities and companies and has investigated why established manufacturing techniques rarely are exchanged for a new manufacturing technologies, specifically laser welding, despite generally good conditions. The logic is that the technology is changed when it leads to economic benefits in the short term. Interviews with a number of company representatives (senior and operational staff) and other experts have shown that in practice it can be a number of obstacles for a change to occur and usually it is enough with one of those obstacles for not implementing a change. The barriers identified were not primarily finances or knowledge but primarily organizational and managerial aspects of the business. Through interviews and the various responses, the project has made it visible that company profile and potential for change can differ greatly between companies of similar size, such as how active a company is in a production network or how short decision paths are.
A major challenge is how to communicate a change and what it means. On one hand, one expects a simple technical solution that in turn makes a simple change, but on the other hand, some techniques such as welding has a high complexity that requires a willingness to change and ability to implement changes at various levels of the company. There are highlighted examples in completely different areas where, through a powerful approach with radical renewal, successfully implemented complex changes have been made and where experience and knowledge could be transferred to the engineering industry. An important insight is that people who feel concerned by this or similar technology challenges need to communicate more with each other, as well as with external centers of expertise, for example, someone / some of the parties to the FIF project. The findings of the project have been formulated in an Agenda for Industrial Future, which proposes two variants for increased implementation of promising manufacturing technology in the industry: Consistent and continuous development of leadership and organization as a prerequisite for a more complex technology introduction or alternatively very robust and simple technical plug and and-play solutions for simple shift in technology.
Participants: LTU, University of Oulo, 20 small and medium sized companies in Northern Sweden and Finland.
Funding: EU INTERREG IV North.
Project duration: 2010-11-01--2014-06-30
Contact person: Alexander Kaplan