Technologies Lean And Agile Manufacturing

Introduction

This report purposes to provide a critical assessment of how 4.0/ emerging technologies can be applied in Far Vision (FV) Consultancy, to support a lean/agile environment. The company has been working and serving various organizations for a number of years, and it has embarked on exploring new, as well as emerging technologies on lean and agile manufacturing. In this regard, this report will explore the following areas: first, it will provide the definition of Lean, Agile, and 4.0. Secondly, it will provide the facilitators and barriers to adopting emerging technologies/ 4.0. Thirdly, this report will provide the impact of size of the company, followed by the impact of volume/variety. Fifthly, this report will explore the product life cycle of lean and agile, and finally, the cost/profit margin in agile manufacturing. Finally, this report will provide a definitive conclusion that summarizes its content.

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Lean manufacturing refers to a product-development paradigm, focusing on creating customer value through optimizing various value streams and enhancing continuous improvement (Ebert et al., 2012). In this regard, it involves active elimination of wastes derived from any process of manufacturing, with the primary objective of maximizing on value to customers. Lean manufacturing strategy has enabled organizations to get rid of excess inventory when having manufacturing operations, and thus purpose on creating a continuous production flow, and generally simplifying the process of manufacturing.

On the other hand, agile manufacturing refers to the capability of surviving and prospering in a competitive environment, which is characterized by continuous, as well as unpredictable changes through reacting quickly and also effectively, towards the changing markets, which are driven by products, as well as services that are customer-designed. It is evident that agile uses lean manufacturing principles, for rapid software delivery (Jovanović et al., 2015). Notably, agile manufacturing is a recent popular concept, which was advocated in the 21st century in the manufacturing paradigm, and presently, manufacturers have adopted it, to brace themselves in enhancing their performance in the market, which is becoming increasingly competitive, and which involves fast-changing customer requirement.

Finally, 4.0/emerging technologies involve agile principles and also brings forth the latest technological trends in the process of production in an environment that has a significant connectivity of the internet, and services, thus envisioning a smart factory. 4.0/emerging technologies provide a significant benefit of stabilizing the lean process, using 4.0 applications. As such, in order to support the process of development in a manufacturing firm, the concept of 4.0 impacts on the production systems of lean, thus enabling a useable framework (Jovanović et al., 2015).

Facilitators and barriers to adopting emerging technologies/ 4.0

The facilitating factors, which can enable Far Vision (FV) Consultancy, are provided as follows. Firstly, when the company has a Virtual Enterprise, it can be able to respond rapidly to the continually changing market requirements. VE is associated with various benefits such as improved process design, reduced risks in manufacturing, enhanced product service, as well as improved responsiveness amongst others (Dikert et al., 2016). Secondly, is a responsive supply chain, whereby, the company should be connected, to mutually co-operate whilst work together with its suppliers, to enable improved information flow from the company’s suppliers to the customers, in order to meet their demands in a timely manner. Finally, FV should consider using appropriate hardware, owing to the fact that agile systems require appropriate tools, which can support reconfigurations, as well as modifications in the production process (Hasan et al., 2009).

FV should also acknowledge the fact that there are barriers, which hinder the adoption of adopting emerging technologies/ 4.0. Firstly, agile manufacturing entails difficulty in implementation, owing to issues related to lack of training, and lack of coaching. It is worth noting that training and even coaching are direct investments that are required in transformations, and of importance to note is that their lack poses as an evident problem. Secondly, the integration of other factors can pose as a barrier (Dikert et al., 2016). Organizations can have a heavy workload, while the agile journey needs much attention. In this regard, it is evident that overloaded people are often unable to change their behavior and to adapt to the agile way of operating. Finally, resistance to change leads to hindrance towards the adoption of emerging technologies. It is always notable that people are often unwilling to change unless they have been provided with good reasons, which they can understand. In the course of transformation, there may be objections, which may pose as the major reasons that lead to time loss, as well as loss in productivity (Zhang et al., 2017).

Impact of size of the company

The difficulty of adopting agile manufacture is noted to increase with the size of the organization. Clearly, the difficulty is partly associated with the size of the company bringing a high level of organizational inertia that slows down change in the organization. Agile manufacture is not based on the usage of individual practices, or even tools, rather, a holistic way of reasoning and thinking (Moradlou & Asadi, 2015). In this regard, adopting agile manufacturing often requires the entire organization to have a significant change in its culture, and this is affected by the size of the company. A significant difference existing between large and small-size adoption is that large companies depend more on projects and teams, and as such, it increases the need to have a formal documentation, which consequently reduces agility. Moreover, it is notable that agile methods are mostly applied to small to medium-sized companies. However, larger companies have benefitted more from suitable-tailored agile processes (Cho, 2010). For instance, big companies such as Barclays and Microsoft are using agile manufacturing in order to encourage the enhancement and implementation of entrepreneurial goals, practices, as well as principles on a discovery journey. Moreover, they use agile to delight customers, descale work and to nurture culture (Denning, 2016).

iety, as well as production volume in agile manufacturing, has often been managed separately. Variety management is based on vertical differentiation of substitute products related to the manufacturing design whilst production volume management is related to changeable systems, which follow the dynamic capacity scalability (Synnes & Welo, 2016). FV Company should take into consideration, the fact that whilst considering the constant market evolution, and technology, various manufacturing systems are characterized by the manner in which they handle variety and how they manage volume capabilities. Agile manufacturing is designed with the purpose of enhancing how production of volume, using minimal product varieties (Alfnes, 2016). Moreover, it is evident that agile supply drivers need to be typified by innovative products, as well as unstable demand, and a clear example is with the fashion apparel industry. Noteworthy, whereas lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste, whilst achieving low delivery costs of a stable product standard, agile paradigm lays its focus on delivering a variety of products, based on uncertain demand. In this regard, 4.0/emerging technologies enable new ways of developing systems, as well as production systems that improve infrastructure. The new technologies connect the gap existing between designs, functions and production systems, which lead to a variation between volume and variety (Synnes & Welo, 2016).

The product life cycle of lean and agile

FV should take note of the fact that all manufactured products start with a simple idea, which is moved through a significant lifecycle. According to Strong (2015), agile product life cycle involves four stages, which include the exploratory life cycle (lean start-up), basic agile (scrum), advanced lean (lean/Kanban) and continuous delivery (lean/ Kanban).

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Agile product life-cycle assists in innovation and enhancement of profitability, based on comprehensive efficiency, high quality, centralized product data, as well as effective processes (Ambler, 2012). The lean start-up comes earlier, to assist in analysing the product idea into learning focused hypotheses, as well as experiments that can test its assumptions. In the scrum stage, the lean start-up practices are supported. Moreover, progressive development is noted, change, team development, as well as product improvement. In the Kanban stage, quicker responses are facilitated, in order to meet the needs of the customers. Finally, in the continuous delivery stage, the overall agile practices allow the team to release products continuously, and on a regular basis (Strong, 2015).

Cost/profit margin in agile manufacturing

Notably, controlling the costs of a product at the early stages of its lifecycle is a vital aspect, towards achieving the success of agile manufacturing. In this regard, if the profit margin of a product is not appropriately determined, the product is bound to fail, and consequently, the company suffers in terms of financial performance. In the present, fast-paced environment, the cost involved should be determined, prior to releasing the product for production (Nicoletti, 2018). Mass production in large companies increases the profits involved in agile manufacturing. On the other hand, it emphasizes on cost-savings (Denning, 2017). The decision variables impact directly on the amount used on the manufactured products and their prices, and hence revenues. For example, when agility is adopted at a high level, the investment cost incurred automatically becomes high and at the same time, the capacity is readily available, hence production of products is done frequently and this increases the profits to be realized.

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Conclusion

Based on the provisions in this report, it is recommended that Far Vision (FV) Company should go ahead to adopt the 4.0/emerging technologies in order to have a lean/agile environment, and consequently be able to focus on creating customer value and enhance continuous improvement. This would enable the company to compete favourably in the constantly changing and highly competitive environment. It is also worth noting that if FV Company applies agile manufacturing, it will be able to increase its profits and minimize the costs involved. Overall, this report makes it clear that the decision to adopt an agile/lean environment is of great significance for FV Company.

References

  • Alfnes, E., Thomassen, M. K., & Gran, E. (2016, September). A Framework for Lean Flow in Turbulent High-Variety Low-Volume Manufacturing Environments. In IFIP International Conference on Advances in Production Management Systems (pp. 935-942). Springer, Cham.
  • Ambler, S.W.(2012). The Agile System Development Life Cycle (SDLC).Retrieved [online] from
  • Cho, J. J. (2010). An exploratory study on issues and challenges of agile software development with scrum. All Graduate theses and dissertations, 599.
  • Denning, S. (2017). Beyond Agile Operations: How To Achieve The Holy Grail Of Strategic Agility. Retrieved [online] from
  • Dikert, K., Paasivaara, M., & Lassenius, C. (2016). Challenges and success factors for large-scale agile transformations: A systematic literature review. Journal of Systems and Software, 119, 87-108
  • Ebert, C., Abrahamsson, P., & Oza, N. (2012). Lean software development. IEEE Software, (5), 22-25.
  • Hasan, M. A., Shankar, R., Sarkis, J., Suhail, A., & Asif, S. (2009). A study of enablers of agile manufacturing. International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering, 4(4), 407-430.
  • Jovanović, M., Lalić, B., Mas, A., & Mesquida, A. L. (2015). The Agile approach in industrial and software engineering project management. Journal of Applied Engineering Science, 13(4), 213-216.
  • Moradlou, H., & Asadi, M. (2015). Implementation of agile manufacturing principles in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMES). Journal of Modern Processes in Manufacturing and Production, 4(3), 31-44.
  • Nicoletti, B. (2018). Costs and Agile Procurement. In Agile Procurement (pp. 171-223). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
  • Synnes, E. L., & Welo, T. (2016). Bridging the Gap between High and Low-volume Production through Enhancement of Integrative Capabilities. Procedia Manufacturing, 5, 26-40.
  • Zhang, L., Narkhede, B. E., & Chaple, A. P. (2017). Evaluating lean manufacturing barriers: an interpretive process. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 28(8), 1086-1114.

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