Technicians using Lean 4.0 technology
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What Is Lean 4.0 and how can the Connected Worker Help

Lean Manufacturing was developed by the Toyota Production System and this methodology focuses on improving the overall efficiency of manufacturing operations and eliminating waste from processes. Implementation of lean manufacturing leads to enhanced productivity and fewer errors. Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution brought forward by the introduction of modern technologies such as IoT, Data Analytics, VR, AR, 3D printing, advanced robotics and more to create more efficient processes. But what is Lean 4.0? Can lean manufacturing and Industry 4.0 truly be combined?

Both Lean Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 are industrial paradigms that aim to improve and enhance the manufacturing process across the entire value chain. While Lean focuses more on the people and the processes, Industry 4.0 focuses on modern technologies.

At the first glance, it might seem like there’s little connection between the two. However, the Lean 4.0 concept combines lean manufacturing principles and Industry 4.0 tools and technologies to help companies achieve superior productivity. Around 98% of manufacturing companies are expecting an increase in overall efficiency with the use of modern digital technologies and lean principles. Lean 4.0 can help companies as diverse as Automotive companies to a European food production plant. Let’s look at Lean 4.0 in more detail.

What is Lean 4.0?

Lean 4.0 is a methodology that combines the principles of lean manufacturing with the modern technologies of Industry 4.0.

The effectiveness of Lean 4.0 can be understood by the assumption that lean is a system where processes are improved by data driven visibility and that the higher quality the available data source the more refined processes can become through continuous improvement. Industry 4.0 technology offers advanced analytics algorithms to analyze data and discover inefficiencies in processes.  Lean 4.0 looks to reduce waste with state-of-the-art modern technology so that there is no time wasted on performing non-value-adding procedures in lean production.

Last mile technologies such as Connected Worker platforms improve operational visibility and transparency and make it easier to implement lean manufacturing principles by optimizing the human element of job execution.

An example of Lean 4.0 in action could be additive manufacturing. In this kind of manufacturing, Industry 4.0 technology is used to prevent wastes. Instead of making a big structure and cutting it away to give the final shape, additive manufacturing focuses on adding only the materials that are needed. This opens up new possibilities for efficient manufacturing where products are made by following the lean principle of adding only necessary components instead of removing unnecessary ones to reduce overall waste.

How Does Lean 4.0 Improve these 5 Major Lean Manufacturing Practices?

Just-in-Time Inventory

Just-in-Time or JIT is a major pillar of lean manufacturing that focuses on keeping inventory levels at an adequate level to meet customer demand but avoiding overstock waste.  Through the digitization of supply chains and modern technology, keeping an accurate track of inventory levels becomes easier. This Lean 4.0 technology provides higher transparency about inventory movement and helps incorporate Just-in-Time or JIT manufacturing.

Connected Worker platforms can improve standardization of work execution by digitizing processes, using highly visual training materials, capturing a wealth of  actionable, high quality data and allowing management to find and eliminate inefficiencies. This increase in standardization can also improve essential practices like preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance. This greater emphasis on standardization creates predictability for manufacturers as they know how long it takes to complete a process and thus how long it takes to make a product. This means they can meet the customer demands of JIT.


Autonomation is another important pillar of lean manufacturing. Autonomation is the ability of a machine to recognize and detect any deviations from the normal functioning of the system or any other abnormal conditions.

With the help of Connected Workers and Industry 4.0, autonomation has been radically improved. Machines now have enhanced intelligence and can detect any anomalies, determine the root cause of the problem, and analyze and help initiate corrective measures.

Connected Workers are now able to spot abnormal conditions related to the maintenance of the machines and rapidly escalate them. Deviations in processes are also easier to discover due to improved standardization which aids in waste reduction.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness

Overall Equipment Effectiveness is an important lean metric for measuring the Availability, Performance and Quality of the production line to determine productivity. Lean 4.0 offers technology to give big data and machine insights to determine the health of the machines with greater accuracy than ever before.

Since OEE was instituted in the 1960s machines have become 20 times more reliable. The source of the majority of errors is no longer the machines but instead human error.  Due to the increasing complexity of manufacturing and the wide variety of products each front line worker is now responsible for making it has become necessary to augment workers with digital technologies to help them keep pace with the changing landscape.

Front Line Worker platforms provide front line teams with the knowledge, intuitive digital workflows and AR powered virtual assistance they need to resolve problems quickly and prevent issues from cascading into system failures.

Lean 4.0 Value Stream Mapping

Identifying and eliminating unnecessary or wasteful steps in the manufacturing process helps businesses cut down the overall production time and aids in value stream mapping as well. Value stream mapping is another important part of the lean methodology that analyzes the current state of a product and how it is made from its conception to actually reaching the customer. Every single step in the process is observed to discover inefficiencies and eliminate non value adding steps.

However, value mapping only focuses on a specific part of a process at a given time when it’s being measured. This is where Industry 4.0 technologies such as IoT, RFID and Frontline Worker Platforms come into play as they can collect real-time data about any process and provide complete transparency for every stage of value stream mapping. Learn more about how Adhere aids in Value Stream Mapping.

Production Leveling or Heijunka

Heijunka is a process in the lean methodology that aims at maintaining a constant rate for manufacturing products. This in turn enables other steps of the process to be executed at a constant rate as well. This process depends largely on customer demand and modern technologies such as Big Data Analytics can help in making more accurate demand forecasts resulting in stable production planning.

Implementing Lean 4.0 with Adhere

Adhere’s Front Line Worker platform enables your teams to work faster, better, and with enhanced safety. Our low code/no code platform makes digital transformation easy to implement so it doesn’t become another digital project that doesn’t get across the goal line. We make it easy for your front line teams to integrate with their environments leveraging the devices they naturally use in the flow of work like Smartphones, laptops, tablets and Smart Glasses.

Adhere understands the importance of leveraging modern technologies to not only ensure that the processes are executed effectively and efficiently but that high quality data is collected to power your operations and continuously improve your processes to elevate crucial metrics like OEE.

Our AR-powered Connected Worker platform is a suite of modern digital tools and techniques that not only digitize your workflows but also help in eliminating waste, driving continuous improvement among the employees and resolving problems remotely in less time. We work with some of the biggest companies in Automotive, Manufacturing, Aviation, Mining and Energy to help them reinvent the way they work and achieve digital transformation.

Contact us now to book a free demo and see how Adhere’s Connected Worker platform can help your front line do their best work every time.

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