Academics and practitioners have long acknowledged the importance of agile manufacturing and related supply chains in achieving firm sustainable competitiveness. However, limited, if any, research has focused on the evolution of practices within agile manufacturing supply chains and how these are related to competitive performance objectives. To address this gap, we reviewed the literature on an agile manufacturing drawing on the evolution of manufacturing agility, attributes of agile manufacturing, the drivers of agile manufacturing, and the identification of the enabling competencies deployable for agile manufacturing. Our thesis is that agile manufacturing is at the centre of achieving a sustainable competitive advantage, especially in light of current unprecedented market instability coupled with complex customer requirements. In this regard, the emphasis which agile manufacturing places on responsive adaptability would counter the destabilising influence of competitive pressures on organisations performance criteria. We have identified five enabling competencies as the agility enablers and practices of agile manufacturing, that is, transparent customisation, agile supply chains, intelligent automation, total employee empowerment and technology integration, and further explored their joint deployment to create positive multiplier effects. Future research directions were also provided with respect to the operationalisation of the five identified enablers and the potential for emergent technologies of big data, blockchain, and Internet of Things to shape future agile manufacturing practices.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Strategy and Management
- Management Science and Operations Research
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering