Special Issue: Investments in Industry 4.0 Technologies and Supply Chain Finance: Approaches, Framework and Strategies

Guest Editors:

  • Dr Sachin S. Kamble, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai, India.

  • Professor Angappa Gunasekaran, School of Business and Public Administration, California State University, USA. (Managing Guest Editor)

  • Dr Abhijeet Ghadge, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, UK.

  • Professor Vikas Kumar, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, UK.



The area of industry 4.0 is gaining increased attention supply chain management, which is evident from the high number of calls for research papers from reputed journals such as the International Journal of Production Economics, the International Journal of Production Research, Production Planning and Control, Resources, Recycling and Conservation, the Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, and Computers and Industrial Engineering. Industry 4.0 technologies promote the development of open, digital, automated, and intelligent manufacturing platforms for industrial-networked information applications ensuring the availability of all the physical processes and information flows to the connected supply chain partners in real-time (Wan et al. 2016; Vaidya et al., 2018). The previous studies have shown numerous benefits of industry 4.0 adoption to organizations such as improved sustainable performance (Stock and Seliger 2016; Lin et al. 2018; Kamble et al., 2018a; Ralston and Blackhurst, 2020), increased employee safety and morale (Pierdicca et al. 2017), highly customized products, reduced manufacturing costs and superior quality products (Rüßmann et al. 2015; Oesterreich and Teuteberg 2016; Ramadan, Al-Maimani, and Noche 2017). Recent studies have also attempted to investigate the impact of industry 4.0 on lean manufacturing (Tortorella and Fettermann, 2018; Kamble et al., 2019) and circular economy practices (Kamble and Gunasekaran, in press) demonstrating high potential in the attainment of sustainable objectives.


The industry practitioners are convinced about the benefits that industry 4.0 develops an organization’s competitiveness. A survey conducted by PwC on 2000 companies from 26 countries reported that the companies expect the annual revenues to increase by around 2.9% and reduce the supply chain costs by an average of 3.6% per annum (i.e.,  around US$421 bn in cost reductions and US$493 bn in increased annual revenues per annum) for the next five years (PwC, 2016). The reported benefits are driving the supply chains to commit investments in the digital technologies that include sensors, connected devices, cloud computing, big data analytics, as well as other software applications such as manufacturing execution systems (MES), warehouse management system (WMS) and computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Additionally, organizations are also required to invest in employee training and driving organizational change. High implementation cost or the capital expenditure which the organizations will have to incur for developing the industry 4.0 infrastructure in their organizations is identified as one of the significant barriers for industry 4.0 adoption (Kamble et al., 2018b). The previous studies have reported that Industry 4.0 is difficult to adopt in small and medium-sized organizations as there is a lack of fund for appropriate technologies (Erol et al., 2016; Kiel et al., 2017a, Kiel et al., 2017b; Müller and Voigt, 2016).

Emerging technologies such as IoT, 3D printing always carry a noteworthy threat for investments to organizations as there can be potential financial losses and no recovery of investments (Ericsson, 2015; Lee and Lee, 2015). A recent study by World Economic Outlook (WEO, 2019) published by International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that the subdued investments and demand for consumer durables in the advanced and emerging market economies have forced the organizations to hold back on long-range spending, resulting in sluggish global trade. Such economic sluggishness in the past has made it difficult for the companies to avail loans to meet their capital expenditures, increasing their cost of corporate borrowing (Ivashina and Scharfstein, 2010). The industry 4.0 benefits cannot be accomplished unless a high level of integration is achieved with the supply chain partners, requiring all the partners to support and adopt these technologies.

These effects have significantly contributed to the need to optimize the available funds and attract new investments from different sources. As demands for advanced technologies and innovative transformation increase, liquidity of funds acts as a critical obstacle for the leaders in the manufacturing industry seeking answers for the question, “How will we fund our strategic business initiatives?” There are many other factors influencing liquidity and financial health that are critical to assess (Wu et al., 2020). The literature identifies Supply Chain Finance (SCF) as one of the essential approaches to optimize the financial flows at an inter-organizational level (Hofmann and Kotzab, 2010) through solutions implemented by the financial institutions (Camerinelli, 2009) or technology providers (Lamoureux and Evans, 2011). The benefits of the SCF approach rely on cooperation among players within the supply chain, which typically results in lower debt costs, new opportunities for obtaining loans (especially for ‘weak’ supply chain players) or reduced working capital within the supply chain.

Moreover, the SCF approach often improves trust, commitment, and profitability throughout the supply chain. The price of transformation continues to be high for manufacturers, and it is one reason why industry leaders are embracing SCF. By materially improving cash flow, SCF can unlock large sums of working capital that can be used to fund mission-critical business initiatives (Roberts, 2019). This evolving context provides opportunities and calls for additional investigation into possibilities and challenges for seeking SCF to support the Industry 4.0 efforts.


Proposed Topics:

The focus of this Special Issue is to provide the supply chain researchers and practitioners with insights and approaches to SCF for industry 4.0 investments. Thus, we welcome and encourage the submission of high-quality theoretical and empirical papers addressing the SCF approaches, frameworks, and strategies for investments in Industry 4.0 technologies.


Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  1. The financial impact of industry 4.0 implementation on organizations.

  2. Theory development for SCF and investments in Industry 4.0

  3. SCF adoption models, enablers, barriers for investments in Industry 4.0

  4. SCF strategies for investments in Industry 4.0

  5. Applicability of trade credit and reverse factoring strategies in financing industry 4.0 implementations.

  6. Credit risk management in financing Industry 4.0

  7. Offering SCF as an incentive for suppliers to invest in industry 4.0

  8. Supply chain financial metrics and measures related to industry 4.0 ecosystem

  9. Development of different SCF performance evaluation methods in Industry 4.0 ecosystem

  10. Industry 4.0 and SCF from different perspectives (such as suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, financial institutions, etc.).

We encourage the use of multiple theoretical lenses and methodologies. The methodologies may include, but not be limited to, case studies, surveys, use of secondary and archival data, analytical modelling, and experiments. All the submitted papers are required to comply with the theme of the SI within the scope of the International Journal of Production Research (IJPR).

Submission and Review Process

Authors should conform to IJPR's Instructions for Authors, and should submit their full papers electronically through the journal's online manuscript submission site: by selecting  "Investments in Industry 4.0 Technologies and Supply Chain Finance: Approaches, Framework, and Strategies”.


Tentative Deadlines:

The following deadlines apply to this Special Issue:

  • Manuscript to be submitted to the guest editors by December 30, 2020

  • First review outcome by March 30, 2021.

  • First revised manuscript to be submitted to the guest editors by June 30, 2021.

  • Final decision outcome by September 30, 2021

  • The expected publication date of this Special Issue: December 31, 2021.


Editorial Team

Dr Sachin Kamble is an Associate Professor in Operations and Supply Chain Management at National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), India. He has over 18 years of academic experience and is associated with leading manufacturing organizations in India, as a consultant and trainer. His research interest is inclined towards understanding the impact of emerging technologies such as Blockchain, Industry 4.0 and Big Data Analytics on sustainable supply chain performance. His work has been published in high impact journals such as International Journal of Production Economics, International Journal of Production Research, Computers in Industry, and Production Planning and Control.

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Prof. Angappa Gunasekaran is the Dean at School of Business and Public Administration, California State University at Bakersfield, USA. He has published over 300 articles in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. Prof Gunasekaran has held academic positions in the UK, Australia, Finland, India, and Canada. He has presented and published over 50 papers and articles in conferences and at several invited leadership talks across the globe. He is on the editorial board of several journals and has organized numerous international workshops and conferences in the emerging areas of Operations and Supply Chain Management.

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Dr Abhijeet Ghadge is a Senior Lecturer in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at Cranfield School of Management, UK. He has over 12 years of industrial, academic and consulting experience working with a wide range of UK, European and Asian organizations. He is interested in examining challenging problems in the broad domain of supply chain risk, sustainability and Industry 4.0. His work has been published in international journals such as Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, International Journal of Production Research, Journal of the Operational Research Society and Production Planning and Control.

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Dr Vikas Kumar is a Professor in Operations Management at Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, UK. He is also Director of Research and Scholarship and joint Director for Innovation Operations Management and Supply (IOMS) research group. His current research focus is on ‘‘Sustainability’, ‘Supply Chain 4.0’ and 'Circular Economy' and has published extensively in these areas.  He serves on the editorial board of several international journals and has guest-edited several special issues in highly reputed journals such as Supply Chain Management an Int. J., Production, Planning & Control, In. J. of Engineering Management and Economics (IJSEM), Int. J. of Lean Enterprise Research (IJLER), and Int. J. of Lean Six Sigma (IJLSS).

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Ivashina, V., & Scharfstein, D. (2010), “Bank lending during the financial crisis of 2008”, Journal of Financial Economics, 97(3). 319–338.

Kamble, S. S., Gunasekaran, A., & Gawankar, S. A. (2018a). Sustainable Industry 4.0 framework: A systematic literature review identifying the current trends and future perspectives. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 117, 408-425.


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