The principle of lean manufacturing was first established in Japan where the automotive industry was attempting to make its production processes more streamlined.
Ensuring that value was always being added to the product that the customer would be willing to pay for was at the heart of the concept. It was summed up by the Japanese word for minimising waste, Muda.
This is still the aim of every manufacturer today. However rapid changes in technology mean that the seven wastes of Muda (the activities that don’t add value) very much refer to the physical production process of manufacturing and potentially need redefining for a world in which AI and machine learning will increasingly play a part.
When you take Muda and apply it to a manufacturing sector that’s operating in a world of digital innovation and transformation, it can be broken down into four new activities:
M – Managing workflow to eliminate unnecessary activities and actions
U – Understanding the new technologies that can help achieve a lean state
D – Divesting the business of ageing technology that’s holding it back
A – Analysing data better to facilitate Just in Time and understand the customer better
This is where the cloud can make a big contribution. By stripping out physical IT infrastructure and investing in cloud solutions it’s possible to make substantial improvements in the automation of your processes, the productivity of your employees and the quality of your end product.
The UK has the eighth largest manufacturing industry in the world and accounts for 45% of the country’s exports. If it’s to keep pace with global change and consumer demand it needs to: stabilise costs; increase agility; ensure business continuity; and focus on security.
As Deloitte advised in its Cloud Strategy report*, organisations need to have a clear vision for their cloud journey in order to realise future manufacturing business models as well as to maintain and further build up their competitive advantage. Those manufacturing companies that are already embracing the cloud are starting to enjoy these benefits.
iomart has been delivering the data centre infrastructure and managed cloud services that are powering UK business for over 20 years. If you’re keen to be lean you can talk to one of our infrastructure and cloud specialists to explore how iomart can help.
*Deloitte Consulting: Cloud Strategy for Manufacturing Companies 2016