Industrial manufacturing: a recipe for success to fight off the recession

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CAMELOT study identifies the key lever for new leaps in productivity and sustainable production

In view of the looming recession, industrial companies are being challenged more than ever to increase their productivity. In a recent study, the consulting specialist CAMELOT Management Consultants examined how this can be achieved in today’s extremely complex and volatile market environment. The result was that neither classic lean management methods nor digitization alone can advance industrial companies. What matters is the right order and the ideal balance of both aspects. In this way, waste can be avoided more effectively and resource efficiency can be increased along the entire value chain.

Although “lean” appears to be mature as a classic management approach in industry, 60% of the industrial companies surveyed stated that they only had a medium level of maturity with regard to the use of lean management. In practice, transparency about the results achieved is particularly difficult. In order to counter the pressure to increase productivity, companies are striving to improve their implementation of lean management. “Here, however, companies quickly find that the benefits that can be achieved are becoming less and less proportionate to the efforts they make to improve,” explains Jens Steuer, partner for Industrial Manufacturing at CAMELOT. The reason for this is the increasingly complex and volatile market environment that companies now face, where traditional lean management methods are no longer effective.

And this is where digitization comes into play. According to the CAMELOT study, a medium level of lean management is a prerequisite for the successful use of digital technologies in production. This prevents waste from being the only thing to be digitized. Starting at a medium level of maturity, digital solutions are required that complement the traditional lean methods and enable the company to react faster and more flexibly to constantly changing market influences. Examples of this are IoT (Internet of Things) solutions on the shop floor, which collect and evaluate real-time data and thus create transparency. The data is used where it can directly create added value, for example by predicting tool breakage. In addition to predictive maintenance, other usage options such as automated replenishment, adaptive production planning and digital quality management can be based on this data.

But companies also benefit in other ways: The perfect balance between lean management and digitization helps avoid waste more effectively, conserve resources and thus make an important contribution to mitigating climate change. “It is doubly worthwhile for companies to put the topic of ‘lean and digital’ on their management agenda: both economically and in terms of sustainability,” says Jens Steuer.

For the study “Lean trifft Digital” (Lean Meets Digital), CAMELOT interviewed executives from the areas of supply chain and operations in the mechanical engineering, automotive, medical technology, electrical and metal processing industries.

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Catherine Nardone
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