The Internet of Things in Lean Manufacturing | SME |F. L. Thomas

“[…]Within the context of Lean manufacturing, focused on elimination of waste and continual process improvement, the Internet of Things can lead to huge efficiency gains … some people see it as Lean on steroids. Tools and equipment will automatically collect, share and interact with other data and processes, opening up a whole new realm of achievements attainable under Lean initiatives.[…]”


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Michel Baudin‘s comments:

Even though the article is a marketing pitch, and the Internet of Things (IoT) so far has been focused on systems embedded in finished goods rather than production processes, it is a topic that manufacturing professionals and Lean implementers should pay attention to.

This article uses the vocabulary of the German government’s “Industrie 4.0” initiative to tout the benefits of the IoT for Lean. Industrie 4.0  is a government program to funnel research grants by manufacturing companies, of the sort that doesn’t have much of a track record of producing useful technology.

The notion that the application of the latest IT to manufacturing constitutes a “4th industrial revolution” if far fetched, and reminiscent of earlier claims about things like “Computer-Integrated Manufacturing” that didn’t pan out.

While the claims about the IoT strain credulity, it would be a mistake to dismiss it. Grandiose expectations aside, manufacturers should learn and experiment with this technology, and discover ways to make it useful.


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2 comments on “The Internet of Things in Lean Manufacturing | SME |F. L. Thomas

  1. h/t Michel for intriguing article. Seen IoT in a broader context there is huge potential even today using available (and partly in use) digital technology to bring “light” into running processes.

    Often it is not the technology per se but a reframing and change of mental models using things differently as commonly thought about.

    There had been great success in various fields at the BMW Plant Leipzig while I was involved there bringing lean thinking into the work processes I was responsible for. It seldom was the new sensor or IoT application, rather a different use of available and used technology across departmental boundaries with positive impact on the whole.

    Curious to hear other experiences.

  2. Pingback: Lean and Industry 4.0 – Opposites or Complements? | Wiegand’s Watch | Michel Baudin's Blog

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