Where Should You Start?

Digital capabilities will be vital to implementing Lean Industry 4.0. Developing them takes time and concentration and a step-by-step approach is important. But you must act quickly so you don’t lose the early adopter advantage to your competitors. We have seen companies drive success through six common points of difference including:

Mapping Out Your Lean Industry 4.0 Strategy – Evaluate your digital tools now versus where you need to be, also evaluate where your people and process need to be as they will be a driver to your success. Set clear targets for achieving these goals. Prioritizing people development & digital tools that will bring the most value to your business and provide a foundation for future digitisation.

mapping a value stream to identify opportunities
Visually mapping your strategy will help you understand where you need to allocate resources.

Leadership needs to be committed to the transformation and understand the benefits and changes which will result from the implementation of a people-centric digital strategy. Just like a Value Stream Mapping session you must include all key stakeholders to best understand how to apply these new technologies and how they will affect your people.

Become a Data Analytics Collaborator – Success with Industry 4.0 depends on your expertise in understanding data & the possibilities to identify important trends. The establishment of cross-functional analytics capabilities between departments will help you drive value for the customer as well as increased agility to market demands.

Collaborating on data between departments and teams is vital.
Collaboration and understanding of data across departments and teams will be essential.

Develop a system where data sharing is front and center, where all your departments share and collaborate on every step of the process. From sales to shipping every process collaborates with each other. The more information you have detailed in a meaningful way, the easier it will be to make calculated business decisions.

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Start with Small Pilot Projects – One thing to remember is not all projects will succeed, but they will all help you learn the approach that works for your business. Small projects help to increase the buy-in from your employees and gives a glimpse at what can be achieved.

For the early pilot projects define a relatively narrow initial scope like adding RFID tags and scanners for monitoring production. Collaborate with digital leaders outside your company’s boundaries; work with start-ups, universities, or industry organizations to accelerate your digital uptake and knowledge.

printing in 3d
Start with a small project like 3D printing rapid prototyping. New products or designs can be created in half the time and with greater precision.

Defining the Capabilities You Need – After you have tested your smaller projects and found what works well in your business it is time to map out the capabilities you wish to implement to achieve your goals. Also include strategies for recruiting and developing the right employees and attracting the right companies to work with. Your success with Industry 4.0 will depend on the skills and knowledge you can deploy. It is important to understand technology and infrastructure at a deep level to be able to understand how it will affect your business, it’s people and it’s processes.

Drone flying above farming fields
Drone technology is opening up new avenues for maintenance, supply chain management and imaging applications.

Transformation Into a Digital Enterprise – Taking your business to its full potential will probably mean major changes to your businesses processes, people and culture. As mentioned before leadership needs to be on-board with clear direction, commitment, and vision to succeed. Fostering a human-centered digital culture where your employees learn, adapt and grow with the technology you are implementing.

You need a team of employees willing to experiment, learn new ways of operating, and adapt everyday processes for the digital age. Your company will need to reinvent its capabilities continually, at faster rates than in the past, to stay ahead of the competition.

Adopt a Holistic Approach – Lean Industry 4.0 brings about the need to develop complete holistic approaches to products and service solutions for your customers. You may sell a product to market currently, but you should be thinking about the services a customer might want after they have bought your product. Customers might want to add on maintenance and servicing to a product, where you can facilitate automated maintenance of the product without the need to speak with the customer.

Build products or services into your products to offer a more holistic service to your customers.
Build products or services into your offerings to provide more value to your customers.

Partnerships are becoming a major avenue for businesses to expand their product offerings by providing your customers access to services and products they may not have thought of before connecting with a mutually beneficial partner. The greatest breakthroughs in performance occur when you actively understand consumer behaviour and can orchestrate a distinctive role for your company within a complex ecosystem of partners, suppliers, and customers.

Getting Started Isn’t As Hard as You Think

Lean Industry 4.0 will create huge advantages for companies that fully understand what it means for their technology & people. Change of this nature will have a lasting effect on your business and should not be taken lightly. Industry 4.0 will bring a massive step-change in efficiency just as the train did replacing the horse and cart. Be sure to have a strategy in place before your competition beats you to it, Contact a TXM Lean Industry 4.0 expert today.

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How Will Industry 4.0 Transform Your Operation?

The best way to understand the concept of smart factories/smart manufacturing is to think about how it could be implemented in your business. There are a variety of use cases to help illustrate and understand the value industry 4.0 can offer. We suggest taking small steps towards your technology implementation solutions gauging what works for you and your business, remembering to involve your people at every step of your Lean Industry 4.0 journey.

Asset Tracking and Optimisation – i4.0 offers solutions to help manufacturers become more efficient with assets at each stage of the supply chain. Giving the ability to be able to track inventory down to singular items, allowing for better quality control and optimisation of your supply chain.

Tracking assets will become far simpler process with Industry 4.0 technology.

Using technologies like RFID tags and tracking software it can turn stock control into autonomous tasks a computer can analyse and report back to the end-user. Offering the user information about its location in the supply chain, its weight, size and point of origin.

An interesting use case is chocolate manufacturers using asset tracking to optimize their production processes for quality, tracking the types of moulds used, communicating maintenance predictions and assigning tasks to workers without the intervention of a human.

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Predictive Maintenance/Analytics – i4.0 is bringing about predictive maintenance where potential problems with machinery are logged and tracked in real-time. Letting humans in the system know well in advance before the machinery causes a problem to production.

The “Spy Tram” used for predictive maintenance across the world’s largest tram network.

Predictive maintenance allows for a more automated and streamline maintenance process permitting systems to sense problems before becoming major issues. Predictive analytics allows businesses to not only ask questions like ‘what has happened’ or ‘why did this happen?’ but take it a step further by asking ‘what is going to happen?’ or ‘what can we do to prevent this in the future?’

The world’s largest tram network in Melbourne, Australia employs a ‘Spy Tram’ with state-of-the-art 3D lasers, sensors, scanners and cameras collecting information about the condition of a range of assets. The ‘Spy Tram’ combs the network from the smoothness of the rail, quality of tram stops and even where foliage needs to be maintained.

Supply Chain Management and Optimisation – Completely traceable supply chains will become the new normal with businesses being able to gain better insights, control and visibility across the end-to-end supply chain.

truck stop
Supply Chain Management & Optimisation will become automated processes where self driving technology will remove a large portion of human interaction.

Supply Chain Optimisation will be key to delivering products and services to market faster, cheaper and with better quality than the competition. Businesses are increasingly using supply chain optimization to deliver better value for their customers. Plus.ai have just completed the first-ever United States cross country delivery of butter with a level 4 autonomous truck.

Supply Chain 4.0 will bring about full integration of all aspects of the supply chain. Machines in the factories will provide constant feedback on production capacity and shipment production status. Driver-less trucks move goods to warehouses, with live transit updates via satellite link. Automated warehouses are becoming the norm with Amazon using autonomous pallet movers with sensors to navigate the numerous interconnected pallet movers avoiding accidents.

Are you Ready?

Industry 4.0 is bringing about dramatic changes to the way businesses are working. Humans will focus less on tedious, repetitive tasks and more time on complex business decisions like solving customer-facing problems. If you are having trouble thinking about where to start, take small incremental steps when implementing new technology to filter what works and what doesn’t in your application of Lean Industry 4.0 tools. TXM can help you understand and overcome the barriers to implementing Lean Industry 4.0.

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The Merging of the Digital and Physical Is the Next Industrial Revolution

The next industrial revolution is bringing about untold change in every industry creating massive advantages and challenges to implement. Industry 4.0 will see the merging of physical & digital systems into a cyber physical system (CPS) that mirrors the digital realm in the physical world and the physical world in the digital realm.

Advantages of Implementing Industry 4.0

Optimisation: Smart Manufacturing and Smart Factories bring with them optimizations and a growing ability to self-optimize production leading to nearly zero downtime of your machinery. Optimization will play a major role in keeping high end equipment maintained efficiently by having the right resources in the right place at the right time. Being able to utilize your production capacity constantly and consistently is better than a major down time or changeover.

Customisation: The interconnections of Smart Factories and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) means your supply chain has shortened to a point where you must stay agile to customer demand. Communication between the customer and manufacturer will take place directly cutting out the need for manufacturers to communicate between departments internally or external providers. Smart Manufacturing allows easily scaling production up or down in relation to market demand.

3D Printing dramatically reduces the time to create customised products.

Reduce Costs: Implementing smart manufacturing may have a large initial up-front cost, but if setup correctly can have a positive impact on your bottom line with the implementation of automation, systems integration, data management, and artificial intelligence all having a major role in the profitability of your business.

Helping deliver these costs savings is an improved use of resources, faster manufacturing, less machine, and production line downtime, fewer quality issues, less material & product waste and lower operating costs.

Technology: Technology is progressing exponentially and having an increasing impact on our daily lives. Self-driving cars and augmented reality seem like science fiction, but these technologies are being used today in some capacity. Volvo has been testing autonomous trucks in a shipping port environment to collect data and view the interactions with the humans working alongside autonomous vehicles.

Mobile Payments
Selecting the correct technology is going to be paramount for your business’s success.

Microsoft has developed augmented reality glasses called HoloLens 2, used in a variety of applications but will shine in the maintenance & construction sectors. Technology advances will create untold opportunities for consumers and manufacturers looking to disrupt markets and find new ways of doing business.

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Challenges of Implementing Industry 4.0

Cybersecurity: The interconnection and digitization of systems is a key feature of i4.0 meaning there are more devices connected to the Internet of Things. This represents a massive cybersecurity challenge in terms of data protection and intellectual property. You will need to implement robust security systems to protect against hacking and unintentional data breaches.

Code on screen
You will need strong policies and procedures to minimise the risks of data breaches.

Just like a chain, these connected cyber physical systems are only as strong as the weakest link. Policies, processes, and procedures should all be standardised to limit the amount of possible breach points in your systems.

Change Management: Embracing change is the secret to success for the majority of companies. i4.0 is changing the way we do things, merging the physical and digital together. These changes reveal a need to strategise ways to support your employees and empower them with the tools and skills needed to transition to i4.0.

Putting employees at the center of the change enables employee engagement at all stages, the human factor becomes a major lever for transitioning to i4.0. It is common for collaborators who are open to change to join the team as ‘change champions’ helping promote new technologies whilst helping colleagues adapt to new technologies.

Employment: i4.0 is changing the employment landscape with the need for employees to acquire different or all new skills to excel in these changing roles. Repetitive task workers will face challenges in keeping up with industry as their jobs are phased out or handled by an autonomous machine running 24/7. Education will need to transform to keep up with the demands of a rapidly changing labour market.

Capital Investment: i4.0 implementation will not be free, there will be varying degrees of cost involved from cheap IoT sensors used on existing machines or the purchase of large machinery with integrated i4.0 solutions. The capital investment needed for some of these larger projects might hurt the balance sheet in the short term but will have a multiplying effect in the long term by reducing your costs, increasing agility to market and customer satisfaction.

Do You Have an Implementation Strategy in Place?

Implementation of Industry 4.0 will cause major challenges in your business in the short term, but the advantages & benefits outweigh the challenges i4.0 will bring. You must start thinking about your Lean i4.0 strategy now or be left behind as more businesses take the leap to greater autonomy and disruption of traditional markets. TXM can help you understand where you are and where you need to be.

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Here is an overview of what Industry 4.0 is, how it fits into Lean, how it’s changing manufacturing, what’s the main applications and some emerging industry 4.0 technologies.

If you are new to this term and exploring your options, we’ve broken down this article into 5 parts which you can jump right into after clicking on the links below:

The fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0 (i4.0), is disrupting almost every industry worldwide. It is rapidly transforming how businesses operate causing dramatic changes to resourcing, capital and technology investments.

The term Industry 4.0 was coined in 2011 by a group of representatives from different fields by the German Government to enhance the competitiveness of their manufacturing sector. The idea was adopted by the federal German Government as part of their high-tech strategy for 2020.

Industry 4.0 refers to a new phase of the industrial revolution that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning and real-time data. It has also been referred to as Industrial Internet of Things (IloT) or Smart Manufacturing/Factories.

i4.0 is the marrying of physical production and operations with smart digital technology to create a more holistic and better-connected ecosystem for businesses to focus on manufacturing and supply chain management.

Lean Industry 4.0

Increasingly over the past five years, as Industry 4.0 technology has moved from the R&D laboratory to the factory floor and the office.  Businesses have realised that the technology is not enough.

Real competitive advantage is only created when Industry 4.0 technology is married to efficient business processes based on Lean thinking. This is Lean Industry 4.0.

Lean industry 4.0 recognises that operational excellence is only achieved and sustained when people, process and technology support each other.

  • New technology that is not surrounded by efficient business processes and effective systems to lead and motivate will just lead to the same results with more investment and more complexity. Simply owning advanced technology does not guarantee that the results delivered will be any better than the obsolete technology it replaces. To get real value from the technology, business processes need to be transformed.
  • However, simply implementing the technology with improved business processes will lead to unsustainable results unless culture and leadership is changed. Old behaviours, beliefs and assumptions will act like entropy, drawing the business back to its old ways and old results.
  • Many Lean purists will only focus on people and process and not see a role for technology. However, technological change is happening so rapidly now, that even the best Lean organisations can be disrupted and overtaken by newcomers leveraging Industry 4.0 technology.
  • Lean Industry 4.0 therefore places the same emphasis on people and process as Lean Thinking, but actively considers the role of technology in eliminating waste and driving improved customer value. By focusing on all three elements, businesses can make the most of innovation and create sustainable competitive advantage.


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TXM and Lean Industry 4.0

TXM are leading global operational excellence consultants. We combine decades of practical industrial experience with a deep understanding of Lean and the skills to deliver real sustainable change. Our consultants have learned Lean from some of the world’s leading companies including Toyota, but they also have strong technical backgrounds that provides them with the insights to understand what Industry 4.0 has to offer your business.

We are passionate about customer value and see Lean Industry 4.0 as a vehicle to enable our customers disrupt their markets by offering levels of service and value their customers never dreamed was possible. As a result, we can help you deliver the potential of Lean Industry 4.0 by delivering the processes and the systems that will enable you to get the maximum leverage out of your investment in technology.

We also have the technical expertise to see the opportunities in your business to apply Industry 4.0 technology to turbocharge your business performance. We are the complete Lean Industry 4.0 solution.

How is Industry 4.0 Changing Manufacturing?

The i4.0 is taking the automation of manufacturing processes to a new level introducing customized, flexible and agile mass production. Equipment and machinery will operate independently or connected to one another. Allowing humans to create a customer-focussed production that works on maintaining itself

Businesses face significant challenges in adapting and implementing these new technologies. A systematic approach is needed to overcome the stumbling blocks of implementing new technologies without proper processes in place.

The connected factories of the future will provide smarter layouts and flows and increasing flexibility of the factory footprint. The comprehensive digitisation of production will enable all production factors to be actively involved in the production process and communicate between each other.

Industry 4.0 will force global manufacturers to new levels of optimization and efficiency. Customers will enjoy new levels of customization in the products they purchase

These technologies are here and doing nothing is not an adequate strategy to stay ahead of the competition. Starting small will help businesses grasp the ideas and technologies of i4.0 and aid understanding of the interconnected future of manufacturing.

What are the Main Applications of Industry 4.0?

Businesses can start applying industry 4.0 in a range of ways varying in cost and complexity. There are major benefits in moving to an industry 4.0 strategy.

Monitoring and Controlling Machinery – Using remote sensors on your machinery to monitor production, identify & correct problems and make informed strategic decisions.

Going paperless – As it suggests, moving to a paperless operation will have save time and money whilst reducing errors whilst being more environmentally friendly.

Introduce Smart Processes – Introduce machines that can analyse their own data and predict when maintenance is needed or advanced control technologies measure quality in real-time during production. This allows analytics to identify the best production and maintenance scenarios.

Experimenting with 3D Printing – Many manufacturers are using 3D printing to rapidly print prototypes, cutting design time down to a fraction of the time it usually takes. 3D printing can fabricate complex forms and create highly customized products tailored to your customers.

Emerging Industry 4.0 Technologies

Industrial revolutions have historically brought about step changes in efficiency globally. Industry 4.0 is no different, with emerging technologies that will make process improvement.

Robotics & Automation – Manufacturers have used robots to tackle complex assignments like car manufacturing for decades where robust, rigid and standardized robots are used to carry out repetitive tasks like installing headlights or interior parts.

Automation is evolving new types of robots to have even greater utility and flexibility. Eventually we will see robots that work side by side helping each other or the humans interacting with them in the factory of the future.

Simulations – This concept is not new but will have an increasing impact on product development and product process design. 3D simulations of product development, material development and production processes will become widespread.

Simulations will be used extensively in operations to leverage real-time data and mirror the physical world as a virtual model including humans, products and machines. Allowing operators to test and optimize machine settings for the next product in the virtual world before the physical changeover, thereby driving down machine setup times and increasing quality.

Horizontal & Vertical System Integration – Horizontal integration means networking between individual machines, equipment or production units. Vertical integration means gaining control of different parts of the supply chain.

An entire organisation will be fused together, and companies will be connected with one another. Industry 4.0 will allow for companies, departments, functions and capabilities to become much more cohesive, creating truly automated value chains.

Industrial Internet of Things – It is seen as the main driver bringing machines, advanced analytics and people together. It is the network of connected devices connected by communications technologies that allow systems to monitor, collect, exchange, analyze and deliver valuable insights.

Embedded computers and sensors allow field devices to communicate and interact with each other. This will improve connectivity, efficiency, save time, improved safety and enable real time responses.

Cybersecurity – The most used Industry 4.0 technology so far would be Cybersecurity. Utilised by most businesses it is made up of technologies, processes and controls to protect the end user, systems, networks and data from cyber-attacks.

Increasing connectivity and the use of standard communication protocols means cybersecurity has never been more important to keep your devices and data safe, especially due to the amount of entry points for a hacker.

Cloud Computing – Cloud Computing is where digital platforms are created and used for accessing, storing and using data. Cloud services are providing real-time information and scalability to support a multitude of devices and sensors along with the data they generate.

Cloud computing is allowing for great collaboration not just internally but across suppliers and distributors. Allowing business to become more agile, launching new products with ever increasing speed.

Additive Manufacturing – Also known as 3D Printing, additive manufacturing has been around for at least 30 years but has evolved into a production process for small batch highly customized products that offer advantages over their traditional counterparts.

Additive Manufacturing is already being used in the Aerospace and Defense Industries creating new designs that reduce aircraft weight.

Augmented Reality (AR) – Currently in their infancy augmented reality-based systems support a variety of services such as selecting parts in a warehouse and viewing pipework underneath construction or roadways. Businesses will use AR to provide workers with real-time information to improve decision making, problem solving and work procedures.

Applications of augmented reality will only be limited by your imagination and budget.

Big Data and Analytics – Data has become more expensive than oil as a commodity and humans have amassed more data in the last few years than the whole of human history. Analytics is being able to bring these datasets together in a meaningful way.

Industry has a wealth of untapped data which can help to optimize production quality, save energy, improve services, allowing real-time decision-making and data driven quality control. Examining large and varied data sets will become the new normal finding hidden patterns, unknown correlations, customer preferences and market trends.

Semi-conductor manufacturers are using big data to decrease product failures by correlating testing phase data at the end of the production line with process data collected earlier, discharging faulty chips earlier in the production process.


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