The integration of LEAN production with Industry 4.0: The age of smart production

NGUYEN DANH NGUYEN (School of Economics and Management, Hanoi University of Science and Technology) - NGUYEN DAT MINH (Faculty of Industrial and Energy Management, Electric Power University)


LEAN production was firstly introduced in the early 1990s and accepted in the manufacturing sector. LEAN production is widely regarded as a potential method to improve productivity and decrease costs by eliminating waste from the manufacturing process. It is required the efforts from everyone in the organization to improve the manufacturing process continuously in order to make LEAN implementation successful. Now, Industry 4.0 has emerged in the manufacturing sector. It refers to the optimization which is driven by cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT), creating smart factories. However, it is important to find out how to take advantage of both LEAN production and Industry 4.0. This paper analyzes the existing possibilities for the intergration of Industry 4.0’s technologies into LEAN. This paper also points out how Industry.40’s technologies can add more value to LEAN production in the future.

Keywords: LEAN production, Industry 4.0, combination, smart production.

1. Introduction

LEAN concerns a production system that is oriented on get the value added through continuous improvements. The aims of LEAN are reducing unnecessary variations and steps in the work process by the elimination of waste which is perceived as any action that does not add value to the product or services. Originally, it was focused on the elimination of such wastes as defects of requiring rework, unnecessary processing steps, movement of materials or people, waiting time, excess inventory, and overproduction (called MUDA) (Mrugalska & Wyrwicka, 2017). Todays, LEAN covers diverse aspects of the manufacturing starting from the initial stage of product life cycle such as product development, procurement and manufacturing over to distribution. LEAN is implemented as a philosophy and a set of tools and practices to achieve the highest quality, lowest cost, and shortest lead time. It can be also considered as an extended just-in-time including all parties involved in supply chain, intra and inter-organization (Unger, Kyamaky, & Kacprzyk, 2011)

Several industries have tried in vain or only with partial success. Hence it is essential to find a route to solve these problems and aid the industries in a non-traditional and employee-friendly manner. And the answer comes in the name of Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is recent initiative to gain stronghold in global manufacturing. By advanced application of information and communication systems in manufacturing, the entire factory environment becomes smart and enables mass customization. Many research activities are carried out by academia and industry on the technologies and processes concerned with Industry 4.0 (Sanders, Elangeswaran, & Wulfsberg, 2016). However, it is an inevitable fact that financial investment required for such high-end digitization is quite intensive. So not all enterprises are enthusiastic to dive into Industry 4.0 and the question whether it is worth the effort always remains. The approach used in this paper answers a significant part of this question, and illustrates that LEAN production and Industry 4.0 are not mutually exclusive; they can be seamlessly integrated with each other for successful production management. This paper analyses the researches and publications concerned in the field of Industry 4.0, and identifies how they act as supporting factors for implementation of LEAN production.

2. LEAN Production

LEAN production is a combination of principles, tools, and techniques designed to deal with the root problems of ineffective activities in manufacturing It is a systematic approach to eliminate all types of squanderings in the whole of the production chain in order to maximize the customers' satisfaction (J. P. Womack, Jones, & Roos, 1990). The aim of LEAN is to optimize the values of Productivity, Quality, Cost, and Ability to meet customer’s requirements while still ensuring the safety conditions of production. As to meet these goals, LEAN tries to get rid of three main sources leading to damages from the production management system: waste, volatility, and inflexibility. (Drew, McCallum, & Roggenhofer, 2004). The central thrust of LEAN is to create a streamlined flow of processes to create the finished products at the required pace of customers with little or no waste (Shah & Ward, 2003). Shah., & Ward (2003) performed a comprehensive, multi-step approach based study to identify the structure of LEAN and developed reliable scales to signify them. They quantified the conceptual definition and measurement of LEAN in factors as mentioned below (Sanders et al., 2016). These above factors are grouped into three major factors, include: (1) Internal factors, (2) External factors, (3) Control and human factors.

Internal and process factors. Pull production is an initiation of need from the successor through kanban should enable the flow of production from the predecessor, signified as JIT production. Continuous flow is a streamlined flow of products without large halts should be established across the factory. “Setup time reductionis the time required to adapt resources for variations in products should be maintained as least as possible.

External factors. “Supplier feedback” is Critics and performances of products and services received from customers to be periodically communicated back to suppliers, for effective transfer of information. “Just-In-Time delivery by suppliersis the only required quantity of products to be delivered by suppliers at the specified time when customers require them. “Customer involvementis the prime drivers of a business, their needs and expectations should be given high priority.

Control and human factors. “Total productive/preventive maintenanceconcerned to failure of machines and equipment should be avoided by effective periodical maintenance procedures. In case of failure low rectification time is to be maintained. “Statistical process controlmentioned the quality of products is of prime important, no defect should get percolated from a process to a subsequent one. “Employee involvementmentioned to the adequate motivation and entitlement, employees are to be empowered for an overall contribution towards the firm.

These dimensions of LEAN are used in our research and are validated for attainability through Industry 4.0 technologies.

3. The fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0)

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution applying the principles of cyber-physical systems (CPS), internet and future-oriented technologies and smart systems with enhanced human-machine interaction paradigms. This enables identity and communication for every entity in the value stream and leads to IT-enabled mass customization in manufacturing (Lasi, Fettke, Kemper, Feld, & Hoffmann, 2014; Posada et al., 2015; Valdeza, Braunera, Schaara, Holzingerb, & Zieflea, 2015). The IoT and Services enables to network the entire factory to form a smart environment. Digitally developed smart machines, warehousing systems and production facilities enable end-to-end information and communication systems-based integration across the supply chain from inbound logistics to production, marketing, outbound logistics and service (Kagermann, Helbig, Hellinger, & Wahlster, 2013).

Industry 4.0 significantly influences the production environment with radical changes in the execution of operations. Industry 4.0 enables real-time planning of production plans, along with dynamic self-optimisation. The introduction of information and communication systems into industrial network also leads to a steep rise in the degree of automation. Intelligent and self-optimizing machines in the production line synchronize themselves with the entire value chain, right from order or materials from suppliers to delivery of goods to customers (Wan, Cai, & Zhou, 2015).

The concept of Industry 4.0 can be perceived as a strategy for being competitive in the future. It is focused on the optimization of value chains due to autonomously controlled and dynamic production. In order to achieve the increased automation the technological concepts of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) can be used to work autonomously and interact with their production environment via microcontroller, actuators, sensors and a communication interface (Mrugalska & Wyrwicka, 2017). However, the introduction of both CPS and the Internet of Things, where things are supposed to initiate both a process of preparation, design, planning, optimization, tasks for tools, and human if necessary, is leading in a industry 4.0 referring to future (See Table 1).

Table 1: Production revolution





Communication system


Internet & Intranet

Internet of Things




LEAN production

Smart production


Mechanization and automation

Automation and computerzation

Virtulization and intergration

 (Source: Mrugalska., & Wyrwicka, 2017)

4. Integration of LEAN production and Industry 4.0

Integrating LEAN production and Industry 4.0 is an important research field to be extensively explored. With the advent of computer integrated manufacturing, there was a speculation that factories of the future would operate autonomously without the requirement of human operators. Though such a statement proved to be infeasible in a practical scenario, it gave rise to the concept of lean automation, where robotic and automation technologies are employed to achieve lean manufacturing. Taichii Ohno's Toyota Production System is based on two pillars: Just in time and Jidoka (Ohno, 1988). Jidoka refers to automating the manual processes to include inspection (i.e. when a problem occurs, the equipment should stop automatically and not allow defects to further proceed through the line). Only when a defect is detected would a human intervention be required. Hence automation in production has played an important role right from the inception of lean manufacturing, and Industry 4.0 can be considered as advancement in this field. In the following sections, the techiques of LEAN from the three grouping factors according to Shah and Ward (2003) are discussed and how the technologies and concepts of Industry 4.0 act as enablers to these techniques is evaluated.

Internal factors. The sequence of operations performed in the shop floor and the flow of products right from the stage of raw materials to the finished goods are significant factors to be considered to implement LEAN production. These factors are discussed and an illustration depicting the impact of Industry 4.0 on these factors is shown in Figure 1 below.

External factors. The external factors are concerned about the flow of goods and information from the suppliers to the manufacturer. It is necessary for every entity in the supply chain to get synchronized with the changes in business processes of the manufacturer. Accordingly, the dimensions supplier feedback, and JIT delivery are discussed, and the impact of Industry 4.0 on these factors is shown in Figure 2.

Control and human factors. The factors responsible for control of quality and equipment along with work environment are considered in this category. Control and human factors consist of the dimensions total productive/preventive maintenance, statistical process control and employee involvement. An illustration of impact of Industry 4.0 on these factors is shown in Figure 3.

5. Discussion

This paper provided a positive correlation between LEAN production and Industry 4.0. A summary of the techniques of LEAN production and the supporting from industry 4.0 to implement LEAN with existing resources from factories. Every problem for implementation of LEAN production from the perspective of integration has a solution in the technologies associated with Industry 4.0. Executing these technologies solves these barriers in all factors – internal, external, and control & human factors. Hence the research clearly confirms that by embracing Industry 4.0, industries are capable of becoming LEAN without the need to maintain conscious and persistent “striving-for-LEAN” efforts. Conception, operation and maintenance of a manufacturing industry are improving considerably through the technologies of Industry 4.0. With advanced information and communication systems in place along with a lean operating structure, an industry has the potential to expand into new horizons at ease.

Table 2: Summary of LEAN production dimensions factors

and solution from industry 4.0

Dimensions of LEAN Manufacturing

Solution from Indstry 4.0

Internal factors

Pull production

Material replenishment monitoring

Schedule tracking

E-Kanban updating

Continous flow

Real-time inventory tracking


Decentralized decision making

Setup time reduction

Self-optimization & machine learning

Workpiece-machine communication

External factors

Supplier feedback

Collaborative manufacturing

Better communication mechanisms

Synchronization of data between parties

JIT delivery by suppplier

Automatic item tagging

Wireless tracking of goods

Smart real-location of order

Customer involvement

Elongated freeze period

Usage analysis

Control and human factors

Total productive/preventive maintenace

Man-Machine communication

Self-maintenance assessment

Predictive maintenance control system

Statistical process control

Workpiece-machine communication

Improved man-machine interface

Process tracking, integration & management

Emplyee involvement

Smart feedback devices

Operator support systems

Improved man-machine interface

(Source: Develop from the research of Sander et al, 2016)

In the presented paper, the review of literature about LEAN production and Industry 4.0 was presented to show the possibility of linking these two approaches. The examples were provided for 9 factors of LEAN and its solutions of industry 4.0. Through integrated information and communication systems, the shortcomings of conventional practices can be overcome to improve productivity and eliminate wastes. It implies that industries now have the combined benefits of real-time integration of the entire factory along with assurance of minimal waste generation. It enabled to indicate that these two approaches can support each other. Further research should review the application of industry 4.0 technologies to LEAN techniques as mentioned in table 2 for enterprises.


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Sự kết hợp giữa sản xuất tinh gọn và các tiến bộ công nghệ của cuộc cách mạng công nghiệp 4.0: Thời đại của sản xuất thông minh

Nguyễn Danh Nguyên 1

Nguyễn Đạt Minh 2

1 Viện Kinh tế và Quản lý, Đại học Bách khoa Hà Nội

2 Khoa Quản lý Công nghiệp và Năng lượng, Đại học Điện lực


Sản xuất tinh gọn (LEAN) lần đầu được biết đến vào đầu những năm 1990 và được sử dụng trong sản xuất công nghiệp. Sản xuất tinh gọn được nhiều người đánh giá là phương pháp tiềm năng để cải thiện năng suất và giảm chi phí bằng cách loại bỏ hao phí. Việc áp dụng thành công sản xuất tinh gọn đòi hỏi sự nỗ lực từ mọi người trong tổ chức để tạo ra sự cải tiến liên tục. Hiện nay, cuộc cách mạng công nghiệp 4.0 đã xuất hiện trong lĩnh vực sản xuất với việc tối ưu hoá quy trình sản xuất và tạo ra nhà máy thông minh thông qua điện toán đám mây, Internet vạn vật (IoT). Tuy nhiên, cần làm thế nào để sản xuất tinh gọn và cách mạng công nghiệp 4.0 có thể cùng tồn tại và hỗ trợ lẫn nhau. Bài viết này phân tích tổng quan về các khả năng hiện có để tích hợp những tiến bộ của sản xuất công nghiệp 4.0 vào sản xuất tinh gọn. Bài viết cũng chỉ ra cách sản xuất công nghiệp 4.0 có thể gia tăng giá trị cho sản xuất tinh gọn trong tương lai.

Từ khoá: sản xuất tinh gọn, Công nghiệp 4.0, kết hợp, sản xuất thông minh.

[Tạp chí Công Thương - Các kết quả nghiên cứu khoa học và ứng dụng công nghệ, Số 10, tháng 5 năm 2021]