Cloud manufacturing architecture: a critical analysis of its development, characteristics and future agenda to support its adoption

Ming Lim, Weiqing Xiong, Chao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
158 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: In the last decade, cloud manufacturing (CMfg) has attracted considerable attention from academia and industry worldwide. It is widely accepted that the design and analysis of cloud manufacturing architecture (CMfg-A) are the basis for developing and applying CMfg systems. However, in existing studies, analysis of the status, development process and internal characteristics of CMfg-A is lacking, hindering an understanding of the research hotspots and development trends of CMfg-A. Meanwhile, effective guidance is lacking on the construction of superior CMfg-As. The purpose of this paper is to review the relevant research on CMfg-A via identification of the main layers, elements, relationships, structure and functions of CMfg-A to provide valuable information to scholars and practitioners for further research on key CMfg-A technologies and the construction of CMfg systems with superior performance. Design/methodology/approach: This study systematically reviews the relevant research on CMfg-A across transformation process to internal characteristics by integrating quantitative and qualitative methods. First, the split and reorganization method is used to recognize the main layers of CMfg-A. Then, the transformation process of six main layers is analysed through retrospective analysis, and the similarities and differences in CMfg-A are obtained. Subsequently, based on systematic theory, the elements, relationships, structure and functions of CMfg-A are inductively studied. A 3D printing architecture design case is conducted to discuss the weakness of the previous architecture and demonstrate how to improve it. Finally, the primary current trends and future opportunities are presented. Findings: By analyzing the transformation process of CMfg-A, this study finds that CMfg-A resources are developing from tangible resources into intangible resources and intelligent resources. CMfg-A technology is developing from traditional cloud computing-based technology towards advanced manufacturing technology, and CMfg-A application scope is gradually expanding from traditional manufacturing industry to emerging manufacturing industry. In addition, by analyzing the elements, relationships, structure and functions of CMfg-A, this study finds that CMfg-A is undergoing a new generation of transformation, with trends of integrated development, intelligent development, innovative development and green development. Case study shows that the analysis of the development trend and internal characteristics of the architecture facilitates the design of a more effective architecture. Research limitations/implications: This paper predominantly focuses on journal articles and some key conference papers published in English and Chinese. The reason for considering Chinese articles is that CMfg was proposed by the Chinese and a lot of Chinese CMfg-A articles have been published in recent years. CMfg is suitable for the development of China’s manufacturing industry because of China’s intelligent manufacturing environment. It is believed that this research has reached a reliable comprehensiveness that can help scholars and practitioners establish new research directions and evaluate their work in CMfg-A. Originality/value: Prior studies ignore the identification and analysis of development process and internal characteristics for the current development of CMfg-A, including the main layers identification of different CMfg-As and the transformation process analysis of these main layers, and in-depth analysis of the inner essence of CMfg-A (such as its elements, relationships, structure and functions). This study addresses these limitations and provides a comprehensive literature review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2143-2180
Number of pages38
JournalIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number10
Early online date21 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

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This research is funded by the Chongqing Science and Technology Commission (cstc2019jscx-msxmX0189) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (72071006).


  • Cloud manufacturing
  • Architecture
  • Main layers
  • Future directions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Management Information Systems
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management


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