Barriers to Successful Implementation of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Within Small and Medium Industries in Kenya

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Department of Computer Studies
Kenya Technical Teachers College
P.O. Box 44600 Nairobi - (0)20 7120212, 0729994440
Small and medium scale industries (SMIs) are increasing under pressure to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies (AMTs) to survive or be competitive. Previous studies suggest that AMTs can diffuse in SMIs that adopt new ways of thinking, have a workforce with higher level of skills, a flexible organizational structure and inculcate a new culture in managing, training and planning of the manufacturing technologies. However, in Kenya where SMIs appear slow to adopt AMTs, little work appears to have been done on the ability of SMIs to implement AMTs successfully. An exploratory survey of 60 SMIs suggest the need to rethink implementation of AMTs if they are to obtain strategic benefits of AMTs. In particular, they need to rethink their organic structure and understanding of the technologies, plan their level of skilled workers and engineers, and change their culture. Increasing their competitiveness and organizational flexibility requires a flexible structure, training of the workers to running multiple machines, stopping production when problem occurs, communicating organizational goals, and participating in idea generation and decision making. Further, SMIs need a higher understanding of these technologies to realize their potential. The results of this survey have implications for innovation research and stakeholders in governmental and non-governmental organizations seeking the successful implementation of AMTs within the SMI sector.

Key words: AMT Implementation, SMIs, Kenya, Organizational Structure

SMIs need to remain competitive and produce high quality outputs of goods and services that larger organizations need at the industry and national levels (Gunasekaran, Forker, and Kobu (2000). SMIs facilitate the birth and expansion of large- scale industries, generate employment and increase total savings in the economy. Kenya considers their development into a global player important in achieving the newly industrialized countries (NIC) status by the year 2030. However, there is need exists to rethink their use of AMTs that have a potential to enable them support the activities of larger companies and successfully propel Kenya into industrialization status similar to Japan, Korea and Taiwan. It is acknowledged that global competition stresses on the firm’s ability to innovate, to capture global levels of manufacturing efficiency and to understand international marketing and the diversity of the world’s market (Rockart and Short, 1989). For the SMIs to survive in the face of global competition requires technology to assume an increasingly important role in all aspects of production as well as management. Globalization, advances in computer and communication technology, growing inter-linkage s of economies and increased interdependence amongst players are changing the conditions of competitiveness in various ways. First, the pattern of economic competition is changing from traditionally, static competition, in which success or failure hinged on production factors, to modern competition, that is dynamic and characterized by the constant emergence of new technology, new products, new markets, and new management concepts. Second, dimensions of non-price challenge are forcing firms to recognize that the current highly competitive environment demands that they find ways of resolving these apparent contradictions . Such challenges include increasing demands for variety and customization of products and services, better and more customized design, more rapid new product introduction, high quality, fast and reliable delivery and an overall high level of responsiveness. A way of...
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