Comparing Justification Techniques for the Selection of an Acquired Automation Technology: an Empirical Study
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Manufacturing companies are forced to look for progressive automation technologies to remain competitive in their market. An acquisition of automation technology can entail large investments, which will need justification. Justification techniques can support and guide an acquisition of automation technology in challenging production processes to avoid any unsuccessfully implementations. The overall objective of this thesis is to compare justification techniques from the literature focusing on the selection of an acquired automation technology. Two research questions are answered to reach the overall objective: 1. What makes a justification technique supportive for a manufacturing company selecting an acquired automation technology?2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the justification techniques used in the selection process when acquiring automation technology in a manufacturing company? The thesis is carried out with a theoretical part and an empirical part. The theoretical part consists of a literature review which covers and evaluates justification techniques in the research field. The empirical part consists of a case study conducted in a case company through interviews, workshop and mail correspondence which practice and evaluates the findings in the literature review. The literature review emphasises the importance of a justification technique and presents a selection of the techniques available in the literature. Further, a division of the acquisition process leads to a collection of techniques concerning the selection process of an acquired automation technology. These techniques are evaluated upon the ability of guiding a selection process. Two justification techniques with different approaches are found satisfactory to be performed in an empirical study. These techniques are presented more thoroughly than the others and are included in the case study. Important elements making a justification technique supportive are established and presented in a table for further evaluation of the two justification techniques. The case study consists of a company with challenging processes to automate to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques. The practitioner executes and evaluates the two techniques performed on the same processes and the results are used to document their degree of fulfilling the important elements for being supportive. The evaluation is further presented in a table with strengths and weaknesses and followed by a list of situations assumed to be best supported by the techniques. Justification techniques appropriate for a manufacturing company can support and guide a selection of an acquired automation technology. By establishing the important elements for a justification technique to be supportive, two techniques suitable for a selection process were executed and evaluated to find their strengths and weaknesses.