Lean Manufacturing and Industry 4.0


Manufacturing Engineering Magazine
By Peter Anthony

In many company, one of the core operating principles is sustainability. That means minimizing waste to improve efficiency, add value, and refine the manufacturing process for our automotive products when and where we can

Lean manufacturing methodology, is still considered a best practice in automotive manufacturing circle, despite increased Industry 4.0 adoption. It’s crucial to the company success and that of many other successful, high-yield organizations. However, discussions going forward need to be more inclusive and integrated.

In a recent report, Industry 4.0: Building the Digital Enterprise, PricewaterhouseCoopers defines Industry 4.0 as, “the end-to-end digitization of all physical assets and integration into digital ecosystems with value chain partners. Generating, analyzing and communicating data seamlessly underpins the gains promised by Industry 4.0, which networks a wide range of new technologies to create value.”

The company usually applied lean to their leadership training early on with excellent results. Each of company had designated areas of responsibility for improvement. After that experience, company became a full believer in the lean practice of verifying and testing assumptions. Do not rely on historical knowledge. When you convince yourself that you know the answer, you stop learning and won’t continue to look for the real cause of a quality issue

To continually improve our process and maintain quality, we must evolve and need to embrace intelligence and analytics to help us set new benchmarks, determine what works, what doesn’t, and what could work more effectively.

That doesn’t mean letting go of lean manufacturing. The lean mindset is invaluable when it comes to sustainability and education in manufacturing. We shouldn’t make sweeping changes in our process based on data alone, so it is important to maintain our lean manufacturing perspective alongside forward-looking Industry 4.0 intelligence.

Lean manufacturing is a core principle and Industry 4.0 isn’t to replace or supplant the lean manufacturing methodology, but rather to inform and complement the automotive manufacturing process, providing the data, intelligence and insight needed to aid in decision-making.

Take time to examine your business and manufacturing processes. Evaluate the areas where Industry 4.0 can support and improve lean practices. Don’t let historical assumptions drive your processes. Instead, follow the basic tenets of lean and use data, testing, and application to evaluate where Industry 4.0 can improve how you execute your lean procedures. Always keep learning, and apply those learnings to improve your process.