Automotive manufacturing technologies development has gradually changed from a platform-based production to a modular production, and the internal and external environments have also changed, with consumers gradually personalizing their automobile consumption demands. Auto manufacturers are changing their manufacturing modes to flexible automotive manufacturing to respond to this shift.
The objective is to understand the interplay of factors which influence the adoption of flexible manufacturing modes, and firm performance from adoption of flexible manufacturing modes, particularly in Chinese automotive industry.Design/methodology/approach
The empirical analysis focuses on the Chinese automotive industry, using data that has both cross-sectional and time-series components in body-shop. Cross-sectional the research covered 6 of 32 representative OEMs and time-series covered 5 years performance with 123 plant-year combinations.Findings
Two factors that influenced the Chinese automotive market’s adoption of flexible manufacturing modes were the higher the uncertainty of the market demand, the higher the likelihood flexibility would be adopted to respond to the uncertainty of market demand; and the lower the mean demand for a product, the higher the likelihood flexibility would be adopted, indicating selection of flexible manufacturing modes for lower demand automotive models in one plant could achieve a reliable scale advantage. For China, the higher the demand difference between automotive products, the more likely flexible manufacturing will be adopted, which avoids the risks caused by market demand uncertainty. It can also serve as a favorable competition mode and a strategic weapon to improve the resource coordination ability and performance of enterprises.Research limitations/implications
The findings suggest there are still some unavoidable deficiencies. Although the factors that influence flexible manufacturing may not have been comprehensively studied in this paper, it is evident that flexible manufacturing is necessary, and the study does generate suggestions on the implementation of flexible manufacturing modes.Practical implications
Understanding the necessity of flexible manufacturing and suggestions on the implementation of flexible manufacturing modes.Originality/value
This research offers new significant research on Chinese auto manufacturers in the early stages of implementing new flexible automotive production lines.Keywords
Manufacturing flexibility, Automotive industry, Body line flexibility (BLF), BLF/Plant