Smart Manufacturing Execution Systems: An approach for SMEs to conquer industry 4.0


  • Marcel Pfeifer VUT Brno


Purpose of the article The transition towards a new production paradigm, industry 4.0, is assumed to have already started. Smart devices provide companies with the potential to use their data in almost real time. Doubts are raised that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not able to take this challenge in the same way that large enterprises (LEs) do as they are lacking financial and technical resources.

Methodology/methods The manuscript employs a case study in a Slovakian machining SME. The case study makes use of a smart manufacturing execution system (SMES) architecture developed based on the current system architecture in the company. During the case study, company-chosen indicators are observed and ex-post expert interviews lead to an amended proposal of a SMES architecture.

Scientific aim Studies in the recent years focused mainly on introducing industry 4.0 and describing approaches of LEs and laboratory production facilities to conquer the arising challenges. SMEs however have been found to have a fundamentally different way of working and decision-making with a focus on short-term improvements. Thus, this case study contributes to providing viable insight on the working and obstacles of SMEs in transition towards industry 4.0.

Findings For a simple production with one product and only two further components the low complexity of the system allows for a fast adaption of internet of things (IoT) devices. For a fully free data flow a standardisation module and advanced planning module to substitute hand-made excel sheets are required. As real-time data is needed on all management levels, the amendment of interfaces and the integration of different information systems has to be ensured to support SMES.

Conclusions This paper describes the situation in one machining company in Slovakia. It shows the application of an SMES architecture and the required amendments. As SMEs are differing widely also in their transition activities and targets, research will need to focus on finding patterns on SMEs, industries and the different ways of working in the future.






System Engineering in Digital Transformation