Smart Systems and Collaborative Innovation Networks for Productivity Improvement in SMEs

Andrew Thomas, Wyn Morris, Claire Haven-tang, Mark Francis, Paul Byard

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The adoption of Smart Manufacturing Systems in manufacturing companies is often seen as a strategy towards achieving improvements in productivity. However, there is little evidence to indicate that UK manufacturing SMEs are prepared for the implementation of such systems. Through the employment of a triangulation research approach involving the detailed examination of 36 UK manufacturing SMEs from three manufacturing sectors, this study investigates the level of awareness and understanding within SMEs of Smart Manufacturing Systems. The development of a profiling tool is shown and is subsequently used to audit company awareness and understanding of the key technologies, collaborative networks and systems of SMS. Further information obtained from semi-structured interviews and observations of manufacturing operations provide further contextual information. The findings indicate that whilst the priority technologies and systems differ between manufacturing sectors, the key issues around the need for developing appropriate collaborative networks and knowledge management systems are common to all sectors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity
Issue number1
Early online date23 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2021


  • Manufacturing
  • Productivity profile
  • Smart Manufacturing Systems
  • Survey


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