Lean Production 4.0: Lean production through efficient digitization

Valentin Ostarhild
Business development
10.12.2018 | 6 min
In science and practice, new concepts for the optimization of industrial productions are constantly being developed. Lean production is one of those concepts that has been able to assert itself successfully and is used again and again in a variety of ways – today more than ever. Lean production is part of lean management, which originated in the early 1990s in the production organization of Japanese automobile manufacturers. The concept was examined and systematized by the scientists James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones and Daniel Roos at the renowed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the “Lean Production” study.

Combining Industrie 4.0 and Lean Production in a profitable way

The principles of lean production are to avoid waste in the production process. In the future, the advancing digitalization and the technologies resulting from the idea of Industrie 4.0 will be able to make an enormous value contribution to Lean Production. Find out in the following text how digital work instructions, interactive checklists and much more can make your company even leaner.

Avoiding waste
It might sound paradoxical so far that for something that is supposedly self-evident, i.e. the avoidance of waste, an own concept is necessary for production, or that this concept has even been scientifically developed and investigated. However, if one takes a closer look at the term “waste” in order to understand everything that goes with it, the matter of course becomes a quite complex challenge for almost every industrial company: Waste in this context refers to all activities for which a customer is not willing to pay. And at this point the paradox is solved, because every customer is only willing to pay for things from which he profits directly.
The fundamental problems of any production

Overproduction: all products, semi-finished products and services that are manufactured or provided without the customer demanding them.

Stocks that are stored as safety stock for production conceal weak points in the process, tie up capital and storage capacity and generate useless handling costs.

Transport: material transports do not generate direct benefits for the customer, but are often unavoidable and generate costs.

Waiting time: stagnant or stopped processes, machines and plants, missing material as well as disturbed or unsuitable operating resources tie up resources, which can no longer generate added value for the times of failure correction.

Complex processes: Processes often become difficult to control due to unsuitable operating resources and unsuitable systems. This causes errors, reduces flexibility, and results in incorrect processes and unproductive waiting times.

Long paths: Long and ill-conceived paths within the process disrupt the production flow.

Defects: Faulty products always mean correction effort (blind processes) or performance that gets lost in rejects (faulty process). In addition, the disturbed process must be restarted (blind process).

Unused potential: the process know-how of the employees, which is not used to improve the overall process, is considered wasted or as some production managers may cynically put it: “luxury of a special kind”.

Remedy through digital work instructions
The clever use of digital work instructions and interactive documentation bundled in one integrated information platform for employees – from shop floor workers to production managers to managing directors – can nip many of the above-mentioned problems in the bud.
Quickly create and use work instructions
The creation of work instructions, for example, does not initially achieve any added value and is therefore often neglected because it is regarded as a waste of time and resources in day-to-day business. Here, specialized software offers new possibilities for creating work instructions in a time-saving and precise manner. New employees immediately benefit from these instructions when they learn how to use them. This in turn saves working time and resources for experienced employees and can be used profitably.
Complete and interactive documentation
Through complete documentation, a process can be carried out easily and by any employee. If a problem should occur, the employee can quickly identify the cause by means of the complete and digitally retrievable documentation. In many cases, the problem can be rectified in just a few simple steps, which are displayed to the employee digitally – just like the rest of the manual – in text, photo or video, without the need for additional resources. At the same time, he can document the problem interactively and make it available to all stakeholders. In this way, knowledge is stored digitally and used meaningfully in the future.
Suitable software for the process
A further example can be clarified on the basis of point 5: Processes that are documented and described with the help of unsuitable systems – it is the usual word processing or the classical file folder on paper basis – are complex and unproductive. Looking up or searching the text document often does not produce the desired results. This is where software solutions specially tailored to the production process can help. They always provide the required information at the right time and in the right place. Without searching, without time exposure – comprehensible and precise.
Precious process knowledge is shared
The core objectives of “Lean Production” can therefore be easily achieved with good and, above all, digitalized work instructions. Efficiency, quality and flexibility thus become reality in every process and are no longer just wishes. Employees, regardless of their educational background, are empowered to carry out almost every process independently. There is no need for long training periods or special experience, because the specialist knowledge no longer remains alone in the minds of long-standing employees or, in the worst case, goes into well-deserved retirement with them, but is shared digitally with all colleagues concerned with the help of the software. At the same time, customer-specific products can be easily realized with the help of the stored expertise. The result: considerable cost savings.
Employees and customers benefit from the lean production through digital information platforms such as the cioplenu platform, as does the entrepreneur. Employees are actively involved in the documentation. They experience the meaning of their work in a completely new way, can quickly get familiar with new processes and see how their colleagues benefit from their know-how. The motivation in the entire production increases through experienced synergy effects, time savings and the elimination of the annoying documentation work, which can now be done easily, quickly, with fun and a few clicks on one screen.
As a result of the digitalized lean production, the customer quickly and cost-effectively receives individual products that can also meet highest quality requirements.
Start lean production now by digitalizing your work instructions with cioplenu!
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