warehouse manager discussing with logistics team

For businesses that rely on lean manufacturing to remain productive and efficient, Industry 4.0 is striving to transform the way in which companies operate. With new technology now on offer to business owners, cyber-physical systems and the industrial internet of things are causing a huge shift in the industry.

While some companies fear automation and replacing the current workforce, it’s an opportunity to continue following the objectives of lean manufacturing. Keep reading to discover how Industry 4.0 can help to empower people and drive improvement within lean manufacturing.

What are Cyber-Physical Systems?

Cyber-physical systems help to connect and collect data during production using a network. This usually takes place in the cloud, and there are three different ways in which you can collect data:

  • machine to machine;
  • human to machine;
  • and data acquisition and processing.

Human to machine data collection is when data is collected via a digital interface used by an operator. This could be as simple as typing information into a computer or more advanced technological solutions. As the consumer world has digitized at a more rapid rate than the industrial world, these devices are very familiar to most employees already and can easily be used within lean manufacturing.

Machine to machine communication refers to one machine pushing data to another machine. In the past, this was done with an Ethernet connection, but there are now more modern solutions such as the cloud. Today you’ll find there are unlimited integration options with machine to machine communication, giving you more solutions to make lean manufacturing even more efficient.

Finally, data acquisition and processing are already used by manufacturers to collect data within other systems. It could help you to plan your finances, manage purchases, and track employees. They can be a bit of a challenge to access in some cases, as they are often linked with production-critical data. However, they can give you a connected vision of your product system, which is hugely beneficial for lean manufacturing.

The Benefits of Industry 4.0 for Lean Manufacturing

Using Industry 4.0 technologies can help to make manufacturing processes more profitable, efficient, and flexible. By making a few simple tweaks to the current processes that are already in place, organizations can save time and resources on various tasks. You’ll find that minimal cultural adjustment is needed to see these savings, but you’ll notice that up to 10-15% increase in efficiency is possible within most businesses.

Digitalization often sees a reduction of up to 15% in costs as well, but you’ll need to ensure your projects are designed and implemented correctly if you want to see these results.

When manufacturers use lean methodology alongside Industry 4.0 tools, you’ll find that you can enjoy more success than you would just by focusing on one of these areas. They can help to make your shop floor leaner, and improve communication between both people and machines. 

Employees are able to make real-time adjustments to their processes, which can empower them to stay engaged with their work. You can also enjoy huge cost reductions and savings over the upcoming months, which is something any business can benefit from after the past two challenging years.

How to Avoid Failure With Digital Transformation

One of the biggest concerns for lean manufacturers is that digitization may result in failure for their business. Sadly, 84% of digital transformation projects end up failing, but there are many causes for this. Make sure you are aware of the risks of digitalization beforehand, which include the overall implementation costs.

Companies need to set realistic targets and know exactly where they are heading to avoid this from happening. For some companies, converting their processes to incorporate technology can be counterproductive, but this will vary with the type of business you run. Ensure you equip your staff with the knowledge that’s needed to run your manufacturing plant, or look at hiring individuals with expertise in this field.

With so many great benefits of incorporating Industry 4.0 alongside lean manufacturing, it’s no surprise that manufacturers are looking into new solutions for the future. We encourage you to weigh up the pros and cons of any changes you make within your business, which can help to avoid issues from occurring during the changeover.

You’ll find that over the next few years, companies will begin to rely more on technology and storing data in the cloud, which is something our team will be happy to support you with thanks to our SaaS software tool here at Azumuta.


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