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Mike Micklewright


Integrating Industry 4.0 and a Kaizen Culture

Waste reduction is a guiding principle of both

Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 12:02

Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. Also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it follows behind the previous three revolutions of: 1) mechanization, water, and steam power; 2) mass production, assembly lines, and electricity; and 3) computer automation. Industry 4.0 is also known as the “smart factory,” via the introduction of cyber-physical systems.

Working in a kaizen-centered culture requires the constant, everyday elimination of waste in the workplace. This transforms an organization into one that continuously improves and provides excellent results.

Through the smart use of cyber-physical systems and the careful planning and integration of these systems into a kaizen culture, an organization can and will leapfrog the competition in terms of productivity and quality improvement while gaining more flexibility and throughput.

Why? Because both Industry 4.0 and a kaizen culture are based on the same principle of waste reduction. This concept is also the “what” behind continuous improvement—i.e., the constant elimination of the seven process wastes: 
• Transportation
• Inventory
• Motion
• Waiting
• Overprocessing
• Overproduction
• Defects

Cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time. This helps to reduce the process wastes of waiting, motion, and transportation to retrieve and react to data, both internally and across organizations in the total value chain.

Examples include machines that can predict failures and trigger maintenance processes autonomously, which enables fewer defects and downtime; and self-organized logistics that react to unexpected changes in production, which enables less overprocessing and overproduction, and lowered work-in-process inventory.

As such, cyber-physical systems have a direct positive impact on enhancing the organization’s effectiveness in such areas as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), total productive maintenance (TPM), poke-yoke, SPC, and standard work development and improvement. In effect, these systems follow the three golden rules of a kaizen leader, including reacting immediately to problem situations (the other two are monitoring team performance, and implementing improvements). Cyber-physical systems also provide many more opportunities to reduce waste when implementing value stream mapping to reach a more ideal future state.

Furthermore, prior to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, networks and processes had been limited to one factory. With Industry 4.0, these boundaries will no longer exist, which will extend the range of value stream mapping to include the entire value stream. Factories and geographical regions will be interconnected, and quantum improvements to the overall value chain will result. 

First published January 24, 2019 on the Kaizen Institute Blog.


About The Author

Mike Micklewright’s picture

Mike Micklewright

Mike Micklewright has been teaching and facilitating quality and lean principles worldwide for more than 25 years. He specializes in creating lean and continuous improvement cultures, and has implemented continuous improvement systems and facilitated kaizen/Six Sigma events in hundreds of organizations in the aerospace, automotive, entertainment, manufacturing, food, healthcare, and warehousing industries. Micklewright is the U.S. director and senior consultant for Kaizen Institute. He has an engineering degree from the University of Illinois, and he is ASQ-certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt, quality auditor, quality engineer, manager of quality/operational excellence, and supply chain analyst.

Micklewright hosts a video training series by Kaizen Institute on integrating lean and quality management systems in order to reduce waste.