Future of Lean in Industry 4.0 environment

For several decades now Manufacturers are following lean principles to improve their operations. The lean approach serves as the foundation for operational success, improved shop floor management and gives way to continuous improvement as well. With the fourth Industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, manufacturers are looking forward for smarter industries. The future of lean along with Industry 4.0 becomes the central question. Researches suggest that lean and Industry 4.0 has become inseparable with their technical and technological advancements. Manufacturing Industries are on a journey towards ‘the factory of the future’ with inbuilt systems for all operational excellence activities. By implementing the right combination of lean and Industry 4.0 solutions it can boost efficiency, productivity and reduced operational costs.

By deploying the right kind of technologies, manufacturers can boost speed, efficiency, and coordination and even facilitate self-managing factory operations. Both lean management and Industry 4.0 support the objectives of operational excellence. The core idea of lean to maximise customer value while minimising waste is achieved and therefore takes a step towards Industry 4.0. With the combination Industry 4.0 and lean, the enterprises will achieve a greater competitive advantage. Industry 4.0 enables manufactures to place themselves in a better position to meet the fast-paced and connected requirements of the customer. No matter how quickly or slowly companies implement the Industry 4.0 model, the principles will no doubt shape the manufacturing world of the future

Lean Management – Aims at minimising process waste, maximising value of product without a compromise in quality. Lean provides techniques for involving all employees in a continuously reviewing environment, improving efficiency which results in high quality products in reduced cost.

Industry 4.0. – The fourth wave of technological advancement in manufacturing and is powered by nine foundational technologies: additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, augmented reality, big data and analytics, cloud computing, cyber security, horizontal and vertical system integration, the industrial internet, and simulation.  It’s all about the merging of physical and digital worlds to gain data insights, resulting in improved efficiency.


With the complexity of operations, many companies find that lean principles alone are not enough to address the various operational issues. With the right combination of Industry 4.0 technologies and lean, manufacturers can boost efficiency, productivity, speed, coordination and much more. Industry 4.0 with lean principles as its foundation, has an emphasis on continuous improvement. Manufacturers can reach new levels of operational excellence by implementing Industry 4.0. The ability to connect, sensors, software, machines whilst having access to real time data will help improvement of processes and the advancement from preventive to predictive maintenance, which means that maintenance tasks are performed only when necessary.

When lean meets Industry 4.0

Lean is a well-established concept that has improved productivity and the customer experience for years now. Lean principles/ management have always had a customer centred approach. In the technology driven era, along with Industry 4.0 technologies, it becomes easier to understand people and determine their needs. With Lean Industry 4.0 one can always trace continuous improvement by having the access to real time data which enables manufacturers to manage and execute processes effectively. The core idea of Industry 4.0 is to use the emerging technologies in a way that business and engineering processes are deeply integrated by making production operate in a flexible, efficient, and sustainable way with constantly high quality and low cost. Now, with Industry 4.0 enhancers like IT-OT integration, IoT and advanced data analysis, organisations are gaining a clearer understanding of the entire value chain to inform lean improvement opportunities and ultimately gain competitive advantage

Lean will continue to act as the foundation for Industry 4.0 environment, with its basics aiming at operational excellence. Some visionaries are already forecasting the next revolution ie. Industry 5.0 in which, the return of human hands and minds happen in the industrial frame work. The greatest advances predicted of Industry 5.0 involve the interaction of human intelligence and cognitive computing. Even when the prediction of new industrial revolutions are being made the concepts of lean will always be the corner stone for these revolutions.