IIoT and Lean Manufacturing

By Ralph Rio

Industry Trends

Mae Kowalke, a reporter for Ziff Davis, sent in an inquiry asking how the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) could improve Lean Manufacturing goals - a very interesting topic.  Here is how her questions were answered (your comments are welcomed).

Lean Manufacturing Should Adopt IIoT

1. How can the Industrial Internet of Things improve lean manufacturing?

A fundamental process for a Lean program is value stream mapping (VSM). Often, a new technology provides a new means to make the value stream more efficient. Applying IIoT appropriately enables new methods for removing waste. For example, IIoT can be applied to equipment for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance. Maintenance is performed when needed rather than on a fixed time period which can reduce maintenance costs by 50%. When examined through the lens of VSM, IIoT enables new areas of continuous improvement with innumerable ways to improve.

Lean Manufacturing and IIoT
  Lean Manufacturing

2. How does the supplier relationship need to change for IIoT use with lean manufacturing?

The relationship should gain additional interdependence. In the maintenance example, the design of equipment continues to grow in complexity making it more difficult for a general purpose, on-site technician to maintain (particularly with an aging workforce and retirements). The OEM thoroughly understands the equipment they make. With IIoT, condition monitoring can be done through the internet by the OEM. Alerts and guidance from the OEM will provide more effective repairs for improved uptime and asset longevity – which are highly ranked KPIs for asset management and maintenance.

3. What adjustments do manufacturers need to make for efficient use of IIoT with lean manufacturing?

Probably a lot over time, but where to start? Educate the lean manufacturing blackbelts on IIoT so they can advise those involved in VSM kaizen projects when to consider IIoT.  Currently, the predominate application of IIoT in manufacturing is for predictive maintenance and preventing dreaded unplanned downtime.  In the DMAIC process, when the defect involves a problematic piece of equipment or machine, consider IIoT with analytics for measurement, analysis, improvement, and control.

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