Industry 4.0 and Lean – Possibilities, Challenges and Risk for Continuous Improvement : An explorative study of success factors for Industry 4.0 implementation
Sammanfattning: Lean, with its origin in the Japanese automotive production and Toyota, is broadly seen as the most adopted manufacturing philosophy since several decades. One of the core values of Lean is Continuous Improvements (CI). CI is about the many small, simple and cheap improvements, which everyone is involved in, every day. As digitalization is making its way into the manufacturing environment, a hype around what is called Industry 4.0 (I4.0), also known as the fourth industrial revolution, has been created. In short, I4.0 refers to different technology-driven changes in an organization’s manufacturing systems. However, the true implications of those changes remain dimmed by the single-sided discussion of I4.0’s portrayed conceptual benefits. Moreover, despite the importance of CI for corporate success and the overall relevance of the I4.0 topic, no studies have been found to address their potential interaction. Thus, the purpose of this thesis has been to explore how the conditions for CI will be affected post I4.0 implementation. By focusing on the potential negative impacts on the overall rate of improvement, the purpose has also encompassed the identification of specific success factors to mitigate these negatives. Due to the explorative nature of the research, a two-iteration Delphi survey containing open-ended questions has been chosen as a means of data collection; targeting experienced Lean and I4.0 personnel within the manufacturing industry. The first iteration survey encouraged participants to identify both positive and negative aspects of I4.0 impact on CI, while the second iteration survey encouraged participants to identify success factors. To make the concept of I4.0 more tangible, the technologies have been condensed into three I4.0 value drivers: Connectivity, Intelligence and Flexible automation. The data processing revealed that 64% of the answers provided for all value drivers were positive. This indicated an overall positive belief in the impacts of I4.0 on the conditions for CI both through enhanced problem-sensitivity, built by Lean values and principles, and through increased problem-solving capabilities. While the results reflected the current I4.0 hype, they also highlighted the difficulty in critically assessing the potential impact from technologies that are not yet widely implemented. Nevertheless, for each value driver the participants have also identified Challenges (18% of answers) and Risks (18% of answers) that can adversely affect CI. Based on the Challenges and Risks, a total of 74 success factors have been compiled and divided into four categories: Purpose, Involvement of people, Competence and Implementation strategy. This research has contributed to the discussion about the Possibilities, Challenges and Risks of the I4.0 value drivers’ impact on the conditions for CI in the manufacturing environment. Furthermore, with emphasis on the identified Challenges and Risks, the authors have tried to cut through the noise of the ongoing I4.0 hype. As such, this research has introduced an alternative perspective that sets it apart from the overwhelmingly uncritical discussions surrounding I4.0. While the research’s theoretical contribution has been built by the insight into the I4.0’s potential impact on the conditions for CI, its practical contribution has been derived from the identified success factors; factors that can work as guiding principles for I4.0 adopters.
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