The systemic redesign of manufacturing systems in small to medium sized enterprises
The research problem was to develop a new approach for redesigning manufacturing systems within Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). Field observation together with literature review showed that methodologies propounded in theory were not being applied in practice. The research presents a new methodology for the systemic redesign of manufacturing systems within SMEs. The methodology consists of a four phase iterative design strategy consisting of Planning, Risk Assessment, Action and Evaluation leading to the next Planning phase. This is given a systemic basis through four perspectives: Structure; People; Process; and Technology; which frame and guide the Planning phase. Prior to this work there was no systemic approach for redesigning manufacturing systems within SMEs. These findings have been validated through the case study method and against criteria that have been identified and developed by the author. The research adopts three complementary research approaches of participant observation, action research and case study research. These are consistent with the research philosophy developed within the research frame. Participant observation is used at the outset to establish the problem domain and application considerations. Action research is used to develop a methodology that functions independent of the researcher. The final validation is carried out using case study research to evaluate the application of the methodology.