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Distributed Manufacturing: A new form of localized production?

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Srai, Jagjit 
graham, gary 
Hennelly, Patrick 
Phillips, Wendy 
Kapletia, Dharm 


The emergence of distributed manufacturing (DM) is examined as a new form of localised production, distinct from previous manifestations of multi-domestic and indigenous production. Supply network (SN) configuration and infrastructural provisioning perspectives were used to examine the literature on established localised production models as well as DM. A multiple case study was then undertaken to describe and explore the DM model further. A maximum variation sampling procedure was used to select five exemplar cases. Three main contributions emerge from this study. First, the research uniquely brings together two bodies of literature, namely supply network configuration and infrastructure provisioning to explore the DM context. Second, the research applies these theoretical lenses to establish the distinctive nature of DM across seven dimensions of analysis. Third, emerging DM design rules are identified, and compared with the more established models of localised production, drawing on both literature and DM case-evidence. Practical implications: Our study provides a rich SN configuration and infrastructural provisioning view on DM leading to a set of design rules for DM adoption, thus supporting practitioners in their efforts to develop viable DM implementation plans. We contribute to the intra and inter-organisational requirements for the emerging DM context by providing new perspectives through the combined lenses of SN configuration and infrastructural provisioning approaches.



Distributed manufacturing, Digitalisation, Advanced manufacturing technologies

Journal Title

International Journal of Operations and Production Management

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Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Birmingham City Council (35708-233529)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/P006965/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/E001769/1)