Last time I exposed the challenges that come with Industry 4.0. but what about lean manufacturing? Will Industry 4.0 bring the era of lean manufacturing to an end?
Nowadays, cutting-edge manufacturing combines the know-how of lean production with automation and IT technology. The main idea of the revolution is to move from a centralized to a decentralized production framework where machines communicate with each other in real-time without relying on human intervention to make the adjustments.
But where does it leave lean practices? Will development in technology leave them irrelevant?
Lean will not fade. I think lean processes are more likely to be important in this new manufacturing framework. Industry 4.0 grants a wealthy understanding of the customer demand and allows the information and data to be sent in real-time. This means smart factories can produce faster with less waste.
Don’t forget that with changes in the environment and work standards come changes in lean as a practice as well…
We are saying goodbye to whiteboards, bulletin boards, and similar technical lean solutions in future smart factories! But if you think about it… that is not a pity. The famous Toyota way has never looked at these tools and practices as objectives in themselves, they are just current technical solutions to minimize wasteful processes.
The time and effort to maintain the whiteboard is too important, and by the time you print a new graph, you are already sharing old data.
Currently, information is shared through emails, meetings, calls, company newspapers, whiteboards or on the company intranet. These news formats are often outdated and unspecific. We are now switching from a static process of showing data and charts to focusing on real-time information delivery where all members are always up-to-date with relevant information supported by text, photos and videos of events and problems.
"People need to be able to address problems in seconds rather than wasting time in meetings explaining every detail to other team members. Instead the focus should be on how to solve the issue quickly and for good"
Companies need to include all employees, not just managers, in continuous improvement measures and give them access to the information that they need allowing them to bring solutions to their problems. The focus should be on implementing solutions that will help transform complex data into easy-to-understand processes, therefore allowing their employees to have insight on how to resolve issues.
Companies will benefit from this through:
In today’s reality, we are switching from a broken telephone approach to a more collaborative communication style.
All manufacturers need to get on board!