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Let’s rewind the tape:

A decade back, Toyota has created a lean for alleviating waste and bringing efficiency in manufacturing operations. The operational excellence brought by the lean approach for Toyota has compelled the manufacturing industries across the globe to embrace the lean. Lean has helped the manufacturing companies to eliminate the non-value-added elements from the processes that have further created huge improvements in efficiency, cycle time, material cost, scrap, and productivity.  

The process is passed through five principles of lean (Identify the value, Map the value stream, create flow, establish pull, and seek perfection) and repeated multiple times unless all the waste elements are removed. That’s why the lean method gets deeply ingrained in the DNA of the manufacturing business.

But, now, going with a lean approach, the manufacturing industry was slow to catch up with the innovation, and start losing the edge in the market with marginal improvements and negative ROI. It seems in the fierce competition, with the growing complexity of the process, the lean techniques are not optimal to maintain quality, profitability, agility, and productivity in the manufacturing operations.

Ford’s assembly line is the best instance of it where the company is expanding advanced manufacturing capabilities with the introduction of revolutionizing technologies such as IoT, AI, big data, and others.

You got it right. Under the pressure, this is the biggest shift that Ford like leading manufacturing players are bringing to space since automation. Its most commonly referred to as Industry revolution 4.0 or Industry 4.0.   

Let’s dig deeper inside the fourth wave of technological advancement in the manufacturing industry- industry 4.0:

Industry 4.0 is the marriage of IT and manufacturing operations. It revolves around the IoT, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, advanced robotics, predictive analytics, 3D printing, and automation where new forms of human-machine interaction power the manufacturers to collect, analyze, and act on the mountain of data. Later, the actions are set in motion by the automated robotics.

The companies looking to optimize the operations, they are reinvigorating the lean methods across the technical system, management system, and people system with a welcomed addition of Industry 4.0. Instead of applying lean management and industry 4.0 independently, the manufacturers are using them in an integrated fashion to achieve the next level of operational excellence.

The industry 4.0- the digital-enabled lean is transforming the entire manufacturing value chain and creating benefits beyond its much-created hype.

Take a sneak peek inside at the benefits of industry 4.0 in lean manufacturing:

  • Intensifying competitiveness

The developing nations have remained a target of the leading companies to outsource the work to low-wage employees, but these are not adding any value to the companies to stay competitive.

With industry 4.0 technology investment, the companies will focus on those regions that score higher in terms of technical capabilities so that consumer demands can be fulfilled through innovative, qualitative, and inexpensive products. It helps companies to leapfrog the competition and gain an extra edge in the market.

  • Productivity gains

With growing cost pressure, the companies are forced to increase the productivity year after another to stay in a profitable state. Industry 4.0 is creating a meaningful impact on the companies by addressing all the challenges that profit and loss equation is posing through the myriad of the solutions at scale. The technologies unleash the potential and create value equivalent that brings significant improvements in process efficiency.

For instance, remote monitoring or predictive maintenance reduces the machine downtime thereby increasing asset utilization. The advanced robotics and automated machines perform the manual task in an automated way, which enhances labor efficiency by a large percentage. The analysis of the granular data regarding machine performance in real-time- helps in identifying and resolving the issues ahead of the time, so that quality issues or inefficiency causes can be addressed quickly and effectively.

  • Maintain quality

When the manufacturer ship the products that do not meet specifications or doesn’t stand up the high-quality standards, then the company risks losing trust in the supplier and the customers. It’s like the company is cooking a recipe of disaster for the company itself. It can be avoided using self-inspection tools powered by data-driven analytics to get the feedback including the errors occurred and how to reduce the number of errors.

Industry 4.0 offers the ability to conduct tracking and provide contextual data. The self-inspection process is enhanced with a camera-based visual inspection, correlation models, and real-time monitoring that allows the workers to self-check the quality of the output and enable authorities to detect surface errors alongside provide a failure report with detailed analytics.

At first, the automated self-inspection reduces the efforts and time involved in visual inspection and manual reporting by a large fraction. Second, the real-time data ensures that quality standards are met at every point in the production process thereby quality output can be assured.

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