smart factory of the future | Industry 4.0


From a lean to a smart factory of the future

Building a smart factory without getting lost and structuring the fuzzy elements of Industry 4.0

Complexity that is driven by customer requirements, new technologies, as well as an overwhelming amount and velocity of data is challenging businesses across various industries.

Traditionally, shop floors and supply chains have been optimized by applying various lean principles, methods, and tools. Nevertheless, today’s ever complex manufacturing systems cannot holistically build on customary lean management, as the constantly increasing level of manufacturing complexity is not manageable by any employee – even if supported by the aforementioned tools.

This so called “complexity barrier” manifests an area of conflict consisting of (a) the reduction of manufacturing complexity, which results in the manageability for all employees and (b) the increase of variety and flexibility which is required to serve the increasing customer requirements.

The real value of modern digital technologies is to solve this area of conflict and thus, both efficiency gains and positive effects of complexity (e.g. individualization and flexibility) are enabled simultaneously. Pioneer companies already utilize selected Industry 4.0 technologies, such as additive manufacturing, virtual and augmented reality, predictive maintenance, quality analytics, and advanced automation, just to name a few, with expected production cost reduction of more than 30 percent.

In a nutshell, these technologies enable…

…complexity reduction for the workforce through intelligent software systems that simplify program codes and technology interfaces which bring technological solutions into a format that is able to be processed by the current workforce. Despite the fact that significant training is required in order to utilize those systems most efficiently – an advanced IT university degree will not be required for managers and shop floor operators.

…variety allowance – accelerated by cloud computing and flexible assets – in order to connect multiple devices and data points to apply optimization algorithms as well as to sense and fulfill customer requirements.

However, the hype around Industry 4.0 leaves organizations puzzled as to where and how to start their transformation journey sustainably. The challenges observed during our client work can be described in four major categories:

Will Industry 4.0 state the end of lean manufacturing?

Organizations and processes need to be streamlined before moving on the digital path. Otherwise, excessive investments will be wasted on digital initiatives. To a certain extent, Industry 4.0 builds on lean management and provides the additions needed to elevate lean onto a next level by providing an infrastructure that overcomes the complexity barrier.

Our Digital Factory offers an innovative environment showing integrated solutions for your individual requirements. We support you to connect the right dots to match business and technological requirements. Jointly we secure your manufacturing profitability and set a long term growth path while staying tuned for the digital age.

Your contacts for questions:

Jürgen Sandau, Partner, Strategy & Operations

Claudia Bittrich, Senior Manager, Strategy & Operations

Felix Roemer, Senior Consultant, Strategy & Operations

Ferdinand Nitschke, Consultant, Strategy & Operations