Increased demands for innovation climate among manufacturing companies

Jun 15, 2018 | Research/Cooperation

To cope with the changes taking place within the manufacturing industry, companies need to strive towards continuous innovation and become versatile. This is the opinion of Lina Stålberg, who is researching into lean implementation and development of continual changes in manufacturing companies.

- My research focuses on what happens internally at a company when the conditions are affected by external factors, and how the company can adapt itself to continuous innovation.  With increasingly more changes on the market, manufacturing companies need to become more adaptable to cope with a big variation in the volume and mix of products, as well as the introduction of new products and production concepts. To be able to deal with these dynamic conditions the company needs to continue to deliver effectively in existing business areas as well as to develop new systems, products and processes. This requires that companies strive towards continuous innovation and versatility, says Lina Stålberg, doctoral student in the Innofacture Research School.

For an organisation, versatility implies being able to think in terms of exploration and to take risks, but at the same time to create stability, resource efficiency and to drive out wastefulness. One trend among manufacturing companies has been to develop and introduce company-wide improvement programmes based on lean production, which focuses on the company’s production system and on the efficient use of resources in production.

- I would like to contribute towards increased understanding of how improvement programmes can be developed to promote continuous innovation and versatility when companies have to adapt themselves to lean production. Therefore I have produced recommendations for how companies can work to achieve this. One example is strategy formulation processes, which strive towards strong involvement, says Lina Stålberg.

Another result that Lina Stålberg has arrived at when studying the implementation of lean production in manufacturing companies is that there is a risk of companies abandoning the lean concept when dynamic conditions prevail.   When companies try to create a lean culture, a learning process takes place of learning to do the right thing in relation to lean. As knowledge and experience increase, the ability to see how the lean concept can be adapted according to the company also increases. But before the company gets this far Lina Stålberg has seen tendencies to want to abandon the lean concept.

- Then it’s important to stay put and see the concept as a whole, instead of getting hung up on the details.  It’s also important to lift your gaze from production, which often has its main focus on its implementation, to see more areas that can be developed, says Lina Stålberg.

On 15 June at 13:00 in Filen, Verktyget, MDH in Eskilstuna, Lina Stålberg will be publicly defending her doctoral thesis “Adapting to dynamic conditions through continuous innovation in manufacturing”.