Lean 4.0 OR Industry 4.0 ?

Imagine your entire value chain fully integrated, connected 24 x 7 across all functions and all (global) sites, providing you instantaneously with any data or product you desire.
Heard it all before? Yes me too – welcome (back) to Industry 4.0 (or CIM 2020).
There is increasing hype (refer Gartner) about the development of Industry 4.0 and its likely impact on Industry. There are many detailed definitions of Industry 4.0 but the fundamental premise is that it signals the start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and an era of mass customisation and autonomous digital factories.
Industry 4.0 itself was originally “conceived” in Germany and in the US it is often referred to as “Smart Manufacturing” (or if you work for GE it is referred to as “The Industrial Internet”).
Our German colleagues at ROI (part of the International Consulting Network www.inc-1.com) are rapidly becoming “thought leaders” on the subject of Industry 4.0 and its’ ongoing development in Germany. Prof. Dr. Bick’s interesting article titled “Industry 4.0 in the Hype Cycle” (www.roi-international.com) describes how the top down approach of Industry 4.0 needs to dovetail with the bottom up approach of Lean.
As a Demand Chain consultancy we can see the massive value add that Industry 4.0 could bring to our global clients who already operate across extended supplier networks across different continents and different time zone. They could include:
– Dramatic reduction in lead times and inventories
– Dramatic improvements in flexibility, responsiveness and customer service
– Reduction in transport and logistics costs
– Improvements in production efficiencies even with (very) small batch sizes
– Reductions in indirect costs
The size of the challenge to achieve Industry 4.0 is equally mind blowing. Just imagine the typical global organisation with its
– Disparate IT infrastructure and ERP platforms
– Different business processes
– Different Organisations and Cultures
– Varying degrees of digitalisation
– Unintegrated supplier networks
– Ever changing number of sites through acquisitions and sell-offs
– Different legal and financial institutional demands
The longer you think about it the harder it becomes. Surprisingly however, there have been some early successes. Where companies have taken a pragmatic and focussed approach significant benefits have been achieved.
Even in the UK we now have our own Industry 4.0 demonstrator, housed at the Manufacturing Technology Centre near Coventry ( http://www.the-mtc.org/our-technologies/intelligent-automation or read more at http://www.theengineer.co.uk/manufacturing/automation/understanding-industry-40-factories-go-digital/1019373.article#ixzz3a2Bf96Lf).
As an engineer in the 1980s it is easy for me to remember how CIM was also going to radically change our Industrial landscape. Having spent many years on a lean journey with many clients I still find it difficult to imagine the real world according to Industry 4.0 – Lean 4.0 however might be a totally different perspective!
If you would like to discuss this article further please contact richard.wardle@thinkdci.com