Operations Management in Norwegian Manufacturing

The future manufacturing industry will be characterized by highly advanced processes and operations where technology will play a vital role. Manufacturing will be a combination of autonomous and self-driven machines, digital information processes, intelligent decision support technology, and high-performance collaborative work organizations. In the technology intensive manufacturing future the person–machine interfaces will be crucial since operations must perform according to a more individualized and one-of-a-kind customer demand. The business challenge will still be to achieve competitiveness through efficient, adaptive and responsive manufacturing of high quality products.

New operations management models and tools are needed for highly advanced manufacturing. Production needs to evolve in line with products, processes and market, and new ways to manage initial and ongoing operations are required. In this respect production planning and control and work organization are important research areas. 

The vision of the research area is to enable intelligent and automated operations of manufacturing by applying new models for work organization and planning and control. This will be achieved by developing knowledge, concepts, models and tools for the next generation manufacturing operations. Demonstrators will be developed in order to show the relevance of the knowledge developed.

The overall research challenges are:

  • Planning and control: New control concepts and models acting in real-time operations settings and supported by ICT which will enhance the traditional MRP logic
  • Lean and ICT: How lean principles can be combined with information technologies, particularly ERP systems and data capturing technology
  • One-of-a-kind operations: How to develop and apply new models to ensure the sustainability of low volume – high variety production, often with a focus on one-off, project-oriented production
  • Work organization: How competence development and flexibility can be organized and managed in highly automated manufacturing systems
  • Company-specific production systems (xPS): How companies should manage their xPS improvement programs


Results, industrial cases and demonstrators

The research in 2011 has contributed to a fruitful research arena where ideas and initiatives have been cultivated. The ongoing industrial cases continue to develop knowledge and solutions for the active industrial partners, including Volvo Aero Norge, Teeness, Tine, Pipelife, Kongsberg Automotive, and Benteler. Most important has been the development of the demonstrator IDEALFACTORY@XPS manufacturing concept for high-tech manufacturing companies in Norway together with Volvo Aero Norway and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. Additionally, several conceptual demonstrators in the areas of Lean, ICT and decision support, and 7 workshops and industrial seminars complete the picture.

The research in Norman companies has resulted in several spin-off research projects such as Autopart – world-class service part manufacturing in the automotive industry. The industrial research partners in the projects are Benteler and Plastal. In 2012 the cases will continue, with the additional dimension and challenges of new partners like TINE and Rolls Royce. TINE is Norway's leading player in the food and fast moving consumer manufacturing and logistics, while Rolls Royce is a world-class manufacturer of one-of-a-kind ship equipment.

Based on the competence developed in Norman we have been able to create new research projects focusing on manufacturing and logistics for offshore windmills, logistics solution for small scale food logistics, real-time technology for food transport and retail logistics, as well as Lean operations.

Publication and international collaboration

A strong publication strategy has been developed and implemented with focus on international collaboration. There have been personnel exchange, meetings, seminars, and co-publications. In 2011 this has created 6 journal publications, a total of 14 publication point rewarding publications, and 25 scientific presentations.

The internationalisation strategy proved its success when Norman was selected to host the 13th International Conference on Modern Information Technology in the Innovation Processes of the Industrial Enterprises (MITIP) with representatives from 15 different countries. The conference, chaired by Professor Heidi Dreyer, and opened by Rector of NTNU Torbjørn Digernes was a major boost for the research group.

Close academic collaboration with leading research group at University of Groningen (NL), Newcastle University Business School (UK), University of Aalborg (DK), Georgetown University (US), University of Bergamo (IT), Chalmers University (SE), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (BE), Tilburg University (NL), University of Southern California (US), University of Lund (SE) and Aalto University (FI).


Our strongest asset is the research group, the people and the relations with industrialist and international partners. Hanne Finnestrand successfully defended her PhD thesis in 2011, and so did Marco Semini, a co-founded PhD candidate. A second co-funded candidate, Torbjørn Netland, won a Fullbright scholarship, allowing for a one year exchange at Georgetown University. Long term relations and extensive exchange succeeded in bringing Professor Hans Henrik Hvolby of Aalborg university to Adjunct Professorship at NTNU. 13 master students were involved in the research in 2011, 6 of them European exchange students.