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  • Public defence: 2024-03-08 09:15 C3-003, Eskilstuna
    Javadi, Siavash
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Product Introduction in Low-volume Manufacturing: from an Information Quality Perspective2024Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Manufacturing companies must continually innovate and introduce new products to compete globally, relying on a well-executed product introduction process for success. This involves a successful transition from design to production, ensuring alignment between product and production systems. A successful product introduction process results in a shorter time-to-market and fewer production disruptions. Collaboration and information sharing between design and production are pivotal, with the content quality of shared information crucial to the product introduction process.

    Low-volume manufacturing companies are integral to the European manufacturing sector but face unique challenges with regard to new product introduction due to their specific characteristics. Existing studies often overlook low-volume manufacturing, leading to a lack of comprehensive understanding, particularly regarding the role of information quality in the process.

    This research project aims to examine the product introduction process in low-volume manufacturing by focusing on the role of information content quality. To fulfil this aim, seven case studies were conducted in two manufacturing companies to investigate the influences of the characteristics of products and production systems in low-volume manufacturing on the product introduction process, the role of information content quality in the process, and the management strategies that enhance information content quality.

    The findings of this thesis map the characteristics of products and production systems in low-volume manufacturing and their influences on the product introduction process. The characteristics, activities, and phases of the product introduction process for low-volume products are thus defined. Moreover, the types and sources of disturbances during product introduction in low-volume manufacturing are identified. Furthermore, the role of information content quality in the low-volume product introduction process and the identified disturbances are investigated. Information correctness, completeness, accuracy, clarity, consistency and timeliness are identified as dimensions of information content quality affected by the characteristics of product introduction in low-volume manufacturing. Additionally, adapting product introduction management strategies to suit the requirements and characteristics of low-volume manufacturing is investigated, with a focus on enhancing the quality of information in the design–production interface. In total, the study identifies four main product introduction management strategies that are well suited to companies in low-volume manufacturing. Finally, the study explores the integration of advanced digital technology practices – such as interactive digital design reviews, digital test assemblies, virtual builds and digital clinics – into various product introduction management strategies to improve information content quality.

    This research contributes to the product introduction research area by delving into aspects of the process in low-volume manufacturing. It specifically addresses the role of information content quality and management strategies for improving information quality. The findings will benefit practitioners in low-volume manufacturing by providing insights into process characteristics and challenges in their industry.

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  • Public defence: 2024-03-12 09:15 Gamma och via Zoom, Västerås
    Houtan, Bahar
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering.
    Configuration and Timing Analysis of TSN-based Distributed Embedded Systems2024Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The set of IEEE Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) standards is an emerging candidate for backbone communication in modern applications of real-time distributed embedded systems. TSN provides various traffic shaping mechanisms that aim at managing the timing requirements of traffic. Emerging applications of these systems, particularly in the automotive domain, often run complex distributed software that requires low-latency and high-bandwidth communication across multiple onboard electronic control units. Using TSN in these systems introduces multiple challenges. Specifically, the developers of these systems face a lack of development techniques and tools, as TSN standards only offer general recommendations for the use of its features and mechanisms. There is an urgent need for development techniques, tools, and methods to assist the developers in effectively leveraging the features outlined in TSN standards. In this thesis, we identify and address several challenges encountered in the development of TSN-based distributed embedded systems, particularly focusing on the stages of system and software modeling, network configuration, and timing analysis. The overall goal of this thesis is to support the development of these systems in the aforementioned stages while considering the Quality of Service (QoS) requirements of all traffic classes in TSN. We present techniques to facilitate the system and software modeling of TSN-based distributed embedded systems. These techniques enable performing timing analysis in the early stages of system and software development. In the stage of network configuration, we propose techniques for managing the configuration complexity and supporting the automatic configuration of mechanisms in TSN. The proposed configuration techniques consider achieving acceptable QoS in various traffic classes. In the stage of timing analysis, we address the challenges of incorporating various TSN traffic classes and mechanisms by extending the existing timing analyses. The results indicate that the proposed techniques effectively facilitate the system and software modeling, network configuration, and timing analysis of TSN-based distributed embedded systems.

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  • Public defence: 2024-03-22 13:15 Gamma och digitalt via Zoom, Västerås
    Finnman Grönaas, Johannes
    Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare.
    Preschool staff’s working conditions and professional well-being in contexts with high proportions of early second language learners2024Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This thesis explored the working conditions and professional well-being of preschool staff in Sweden, particularly in settings with a high proportion of early second language learners (L2 learners). The thesis is timely and significant, considering the growing diversity in Swedish preschools and the increasing presence of L2 learners. The research problem is rooted in the unique societal mission of preschool staff, who are pivotal in introducing young children to the Swedish education system and fostering their development and care. They also have a compensatory mission to support children who have less favourable conditions than other children. However, there are indications that the preschool staff are working in a vulnerable context. Preschool staff are among the occupational groups in Sweden exhibiting among the highest frequency of sick leave and are characterized by a significant staff turnover. The preschool staff has also experienced changes within their organisation.  Concurrently, it remains unknown how working in groups with a high proportion of L2 learners (L2 groups) affects the preschool staff. The thesis aimed to understand the specific working conditions in L2 groups and how these conditions impact the professional well-being of preschool staff, defined as the perception of doing a professional and correct job, which included adhering to the curriculum and maintaining positive relationships with children, organisational commitment, and job satisfaction.

    The theoretical framework that guided this research was the bioecological systems theory and the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model. This framework helped to understand the overall social interactions and working context of the preschool staff, as well as to categorise and define psychosocial working conditions. It emphasises the interplay between job demands, job resources, and professional well-being. The thesis adopted an exploratory sequential design, initially employing mainly qualitative inductive interviews (Study I and II) to map the uncharted territory of the preschool working context, its social interactions, and working conditions in L2 groups. This was followed by a deductive, analytical phase using questionnaires in cross-sectional studies (Study III and IV).

    Study I adopted an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. It explored the preschool staff’s support of children’s engagement in L2 groups, combining qualitative content analysis and independent T-tests. In individual interactions with children, the preschool staff aimed to establish closeness and acknowledge each child's presence. In these respects, no notable differences were observed among preschool staff across different groups. However, disparities emerged in group interactions with children. Preschool staff working in L2 groups encountered challenges in managing routines, imparting values, and facilitating peer learning among children.

    Study II focused on preschool staff's experiences of their working conditions in L2 groups, utilising qualitative content analysis based on interviews. Preschool staff working in L2 groups encountered a context that was more complex and challenging compared to their counterparts in L1-groups. This increased complexity primarily stemmed from a lack of adequate organisational resources, difficulties in establishing professional relationships, and constrained opportunities to effectively utilize their educational background and work-life experience. These layers of complexity were experienced to challenge their professional well-being.

    Study III utilised a cross-sectional design. It used Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) to examine preschool staff responsiveness and child engagement in relation to child behaviour difficulties and staffing. Behavioural difficulties and lower levels of engagement, characteristics associated with L2 children, were found to be negatively associated with the responsiveness of the preschool staff. Conversely, the responsiveness of the preschool staff exhibited a positive association with child engagement.

    Study IV was a cross-sectional questionnaire study. It employed random forests, and quasi-Poisson regression analysis to identify which working conditions predicted preschool staff’s professional well-being in L2 groups. The study extended the analysis from the qualitative phase to a quantitatively analysed context. It was predominantly the job resources, particularly the support from the preschool staff’s principal and colleagues, that most confidently predicted professional well-being. In contrast, job demands such as role conflicts and quantitative demands were less significant predictors. Additionally, individual factors, including formal education and work-life experience, did not significantly predict professional well-being. Likewise, structural factors such as the proportion of L2 learners also did not predict professional well-being.

    The findings of these studies highlight the complexity of working conditions in L2 groups and their relationship to professional well-being. They suggest that professional well-being is influenced by a balance of job demands and resources, the quality of relationships with children and their caregivers, and the ability to navigate organisational changes and diversity management effectively. The thesis underscores the need for policy and practice changes to support preschool staff in L2 groups, including enhanced formal education in diversity management, and increased organisational support to reduce job demands and bolster job resources. The proportion of L2 learners itself was not a significant predictor of professional well-being in any study, however. In conclusion, this thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of the unique challenges faced by preschool staff in L2 groups and offers insights for enhancing their professional well-being, which is crucial for the quality of early childhood education and care in multicultural settings.

    The full text will be freely available from 2024-03-01 08:00
  • Public defence: 2024-04-09 13:15 Gamma, Västerås
    Sjölund, Simon
    Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics.
    Conceptualising the boundary infrastructure of research-practice partnerships2024Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The overarching aim of this thesis is to contribute to the understanding of research-practice partnerships (RPPs). Specifically, focus is on the infrastructure that is set in place to facilitate organisational learning. It has been argued that RPPs are particularly promising in addressing the research-practice gap and achieving educational improvement. However, there are several challenges in structuring RPPs. Hence, there is a need for more knowledge concerning how this can be done. To respond to this call and address the aim of the thesis, I explore the dynamics of engaging in RPPs in two major ways. Firstly, I investigate a large-scale Swedish RPP with over 300 participants across three universities, eight municipalities and one private school authority. This provides an opportunity to address calls for research that is conducted from an external position by collecting video-recorded observations. Secondly, the thesis includes data from two systematic literature reviews mapping the field in relation to participant roles and research use. These reviews provide information on RPPs from an increasing amount of research describing the dynamics of RPPs which facilitates conclusions on the synthesised material. The result of this thesis maps the intricacy of RPP dynamics. These frameworks respectively map the intricacies of (1) boundaries, (2) discourses and positioning of actors, (3) roles and (4) research use as related to RPPs. These results are then used to extend our understanding of RPPs by contributing to an RPP framework proposed by Farrell et al. (2022). In summary, this thesis contributes (1) useful frameworks for reflecting on RPP structures and work and (2) extensive categorisations of different dimensions of RPPs, extending our understanding. 

    The full text will be freely available from 2024-03-19 08:00