Whoever deals with the industrial world today cannot fail to come into contact with ideas such as the digitization of processes, the smart factory and all those concepts related to them such as the Internet of Things, Big data, Cloud, etc.
But those who have dedicated so many years of their professional life within production plants will probably have a certain confidence in the basics of lean production, with concepts therefore focused on eliminating waste.
We talked a lot on this Smart Factory Blog, about the relationship between lean production and the new era of Industry 4.0 and we don’t find it necessary to further insist.
We would like to underline another concept: the digitization of processes is NOT the cure for every evil; that is, it cannot help modernization and, above all, improve on its own.
Starting with a process of digitization, perhaps investing important resources, without a “culture of waste” or rather of “rationalizing processes” means, ultimately, digitizing … even waste.
But I don’t think that’s exactly what you want.
This necessary cultural substrate is certainly the heritage of those who know the principles of lean manufacturing.
People who are used to rationalizing processes, first with posters or post-it, later with spreadsheets, today will have no problem implementing advanced business intelligence software systems; indeed, for most of them it will be the long awaited revolution.
Digitizing must mean speeding up what we already knew.
To give an example outside the industrial world, we could say that an expert and open-minded biker would be able to bring out the best from an e-bike (electric bike). A novice biker perhaps would feel particularly skilled uphill, but at the first descent he would find himself having to deal with his own lack of experiential knowledge … maybe hugging a tree.
Knowledge and open mind
We talked about culture, but also about the open mind when we mentioned the metaphor of the expert biker. Now let’s see what we mean by these two concepts.
We understand culture in the sense of knowledge, not as know-how. That is to say, it is not a mere sum of technicalities, instructions, or actions to do. Knowledge is understood as awareness of the objectives to be achieved. This awareness “takes care” of the actions to be carried out in order to reach the goal, more precisely the “cult“, for all that is “good for” pursuing the objective: in this sense, knowledge rises to the status of culture.
Having people with this culture in the company (e.g. a lean manager) has become an important prerequisite for starting any continuous improvement process, but it is now a fairly widespread practice, especially in medium-large companies.
The attention and sensitivity towards the importance of eliminating waste has certainly helped these figures to understand how this fourth industrial revolution can be full of opportunities and advantages rather than meeting new problems and difficulties.
As for the open mind, it is necessary to know how to accept the potential of change and the new tools that are available.
It is not by chance that we have given the example of the e-bike: it is a topic that divides many two-wheel enthusiasts: on the one hand there are enthusiasts for the novelty and for the possibilities offered by this solution; on the other hand there are those linked to tradition, who, instinctively lock themselves into an ideological resistance, in the name of fatigue and sweat, factors which, for those who ride the bicycle, are certainly a value.
Even a lean manager might not be fully open to new digital tools, being possibly linked to traditional tools perceived as a value (from the Andon traffic light, to the Kanban billboard, etc.).
But I think we need to be careful what we value. Can a mere instrument represent a value?
It’s an old story. Everything already seen. As the advent of the first digital cameras: someone took a long time to understand that we are only talking about tools.
The value is elsewhere.
What matters is the method behind it, the thought, and the ultimate goal. The underlying culture. This may never change. But the tools, yes.
Today, and up until the end of the year, investing to implement the new digital tools in the industry 4.0 perspective is easier and brings enormous benefits, thanks to the Industry 4.0 National Plan, which provides for super and hyper amortization for companies that invest in digitization processes and the purchase of digital machinery.
We provide you with in-depth analysis regarding the incentives of the Industry 4.0 National Plan..
That’s all. We hope we have said something interesting.
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Ascoltando: Goldfrapp – “Strict Machine”
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