How does lean and digital fit together?

Deloitte estimates that digital lean can boost asset efficiency by up to 20 per cent and rise product yields by as much as 35 per cent. With higher efficiency, manufacturers can see costs drop by nearly a third and increase levels of safety and sustainability.

Digital lean extends existing lean principles and capabilities by improving many traditional lean activities, and provides new ways to eliminate waste and make people, processes, and technology more productive. Coupled with a deliberate, value-driven approach, digital lean can put companies on a new productivity frontier that can lead to a factory with higher efficiency and lower operating costs than would ever be possible with traditional lean manufacturing.

The increased availability of high-frequency data from Industry 4.0 technologies coupled with growing processing power has led to new analytics and insights, which was virtually impossible several years ago. Manufacturers now can unlock new levels of productivity, and in some cases, help illuminate waste they didn’t know existed. Using the latest technology enables manufacturers to make more accurate decisions, when they matter most.

Simulating millions of different scenarios digitally allows manufacturers to identify the optimal state not only for a specific production line, but for the whole end-to-end the operation.

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Image supplied by Deloitte

Digital lean generally requires three key enablers:

  1. Getting the data: IT and OT collaboration

Prior to Industry 4.0, information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) existed separately with little to no overlap. To unlock its full potential, digital lean requires an integration of IT and OT (control systems, industrial networks, etc.), which brings plant and operations data to plant and business users.

  1. Standardised processes: Process and data management

Digital lean relies on data generated by plant processes. But if these processes are not carried out in a disciplined and standardised way, the quality of the data produced can limit the impact of digital lean. Plant leadership plays a key role in defining and enforcing standardisation of processes to ultimately enable digital lean.

  1. Bringing the process to life: Data-enabled technology platforms

Just as important as the other enablers, relevant technological platforms should be used to truly harness the power of digital lean. When choosing a technology platform, organisations need to consider factors such as platform flexibility, integration with other systems, and data administration.

In case you missed the Digital Lean session at Smart Factory Expo you can listen to the recording here.

While COVID-19 has caused major disruption, many businesses achieved a step-change in their use of new digital technologies born out of necessity. Digitisation has had an impact far wider than just production: many companies are now getting better at managing supply volatility and predicting customer demand. Contact Nick Davis, Deloitte UK’s Industry 4.0 Leader to discuss lessons learnt from manufacturers who have implemented a Smart Factory network.

If you’re looking for a new podcast that brings you insights from opinion leaders, business leaders, academics and researchers on key developments and their experiences across the manufacturing sector, subscribe to the Industry 4.0 Ready podcast series. This podcast explores the importance of digital transformation across the manufacturing sector – and its impact on how businesses design, make and service their products.