Special Issue "Servitization, Logistics and Manufacturing in Resilient and Digital Supply Chains"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Transportation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Teresa Murino
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Guest Editor
Department of Chemical, Materials and Industrial Production Engineering, University of Naples “Federico II”, piazzale V. Tecchio, 80125 Naples, Italy
Interests: industrial plants, operations management, supply chain management
Prof. Dr. Eleonora Bottani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering and Architecture, University of Parma, viale delle Scienze 181/A, 43124 Parma, Italy
Interests: industrial logistics; industrial plants; supply chain management
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Daria Battini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padova, Stradella San Nicola 3, 36100 Vicenza, Italy
Interests: industrial plants; assembly and production systems design and optimization; supply and distribution networks modelling
Prof. Marta Rinaldi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, via Roma 29, 81031 Aversa, Italy
Interests: system optimization, industrial plants, supply chain modelling and simulation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

“Servitization” is a term originally introduced by Vandermerwe & Rada (1988), who first argued that manufacturers needed a way to set themselves apart from competitors, and most importantly, to retain their customer base and increase the differentiation. Today, this term refers to industries using their products to sell “outcome as a service” rather than a one-off sale. A modern example of this is the delivery of media as a service, as done by many different apps, which replaces the need for customers to buy CDs or DVDs.

In a very different context, manufacturing and logistics can also benefit from servitization. Indeed, production environments can offer additional services (e.g. maintenance) to supplement their traditional products. However, if manufacturers are to become service providers, then it is their responsibility to keep the service up and running. Indeed, servitization is only a continuous and reliable revenue source for as long as the service provided by a company is continuous and reliable. There are, in particular, three levels of servitization within manufacturing companies:

1) Product Provision - This is the basics of manufacturing business, i.e. build and sell. Once it leaves the factory, the product ceases to be a concern to the manufacturer, but it also ceases to be a revenue stream;

2) Aftersales Servicing, repairs and condition monitoring: The maintenance of a product provides an ongoing source of revenue for manufacturers;

3) Advanced Services Taking aftersales to the next level: advanced services are more relationship focused and customer-centric than just selling and maintaining a product. In many cases, advanced services are delivered on a subscription model in which the consumer pays for the outcome – whether that be hours of jet propulsion or pages printed.

In contexts in which manufacturing companies remain the owner of the product, “servitization” means that companies should take responsibility for reverse logistics and waste management in cases where the product still remains in the manufacturer’s ownership and responsibility, which has obvious implications for logistics. More in general, supply chains which support the provision of servitized value propositions are different to those that support only products or services provisions (Johnson & Mena, 2008).

There are a number of benefits for businesses adopting a servitization model, the first being meeting customers’ demands, leading ultimately to greater customer retention. No longer can a business assume that products alone will sustain the profit, as customers are becoming more demanding with their requirements and offering additional services that can meet those demands. However, when a manufacturing or logistics business makes the decision to adopt a servitization model, it will also have to face specific challenges, primarily because the “service” culture is different from the mere production culture. The transition from a traditional product-based supply chain to a service value chain requires a reconsideration of the whole supply chain management. Both structure and relations between partners could be affected when a firm moves to provide industrial services (Bustinza et al., 2013). In such context, supply chain ability to change and to adapt successfully to changes become fundamental. A further challenge for businesses implementing a servitization model is the uncertainty of profitability: for instance, servitized business tend to generate lower percentage sales and can be more subject to bankruptcies (Neely, 2008).

In recent decades we have entered a phase of radical techno-economic changes, so that the progressive conceptualization of issues related to “servitization” have necessarily been significantly affected (Brax & Visintin, 2017). Modern Industry 4.0 technologies, in particular, are expected to enhance the potentials for business servitization. For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine embedded sensors are expected to play a huge role in keeping servitized business models up and running. Sensors within equipment will be able to feed data back to the manufacturer or service provider about the condition of parts and the overall product which should mean that maintenance issues can be resolved before the problem occurs. Or, should anything break unexpectedly, the manufacturer/service provider will be notified automatically by the broken part. Recent studies have demonstrated that digital servitization, including software and data processing services, can enhance business resilience (Cusumano et al., 2015). In general, it has been proved that many service business models are more resilient than traditional models focused on selling products (Rapaccini et al., 2020). Servitization needs strong relationships with customer and dynamic connections among partners. The need to continuously assess quick market changes and customer requirements leads a higher ability of resilience.

In line with this premise, the aim of this special issue is to attract research focused on the general theme of servitization, with a particular attention to the manufacturing and logistics contexts and to the potentials of Industry 4.0 to enhance service capabilities and resilience of firms. We are confident that this topic will capture a variety of contributions, due to its relevance in modern business environments.

Prof. Teresa Murino
Prof. Dr. Eleonora Bottani
Prof. Daria Battini
Prof. Marta Rinaldi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Servitization
  • Manufacturing industry
  • Logistics and supply chain
  • Industry 4.0
  • Resilience
  • Industrial service operations
  • Digital servitization business models
  • Digitalized product-service systems
  • Service supply chain management
  • Data-based value chains
  • Cloud-based approaches for maintenance
  • Remote maintenance
  • Maintenance services
  • Operational services
  • Customer services

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Towards a Conceptual Development of Industry 4.0, Servitisation, and Circular Economy: A Systematic Literature Review
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6501; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13116501 - 07 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1130
Industry 4.0 (I4.0) technologies have been highlighted in recent literature as enablers of servitisation. Simultaneously, businesses are advised to implement a circular economy (CE) to bring new opportunities. However, it is pertinent to mention that little attention has been given to assess the [...] Read more.
Industry 4.0 (I4.0) technologies have been highlighted in recent literature as enablers of servitisation. Simultaneously, businesses are advised to implement a circular economy (CE) to bring new opportunities. However, it is pertinent to mention that little attention has been given to assess the role of I4.0 in adopting the CE and servitisation in a fully integrated manner. This research fills this gap by developing a conceptual framework through a systematic literature review of 139 studies investigating the relationship between the I4.0, CE, and servitisation. This study identifies the impact of these variables on a firm’s operational and financial performance (revenue stream, growth, and profitability). Our research findings advocate that adopting I4.0 technologies to the business and manufacturing model enables sustainability, energy and resource efficiency while enhancing performance and offering innovative products through smart services. Thus, firms must systematically adopt I4.0 technologies to support a CE model that creates value through servitisation. This study identifies the research gaps that are unexplored for practitioners and future researchers while providing insight into the role of I4.0 in implementing CE in the servitisation business model. Full article
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