Lean management remains the fundamental approach to operational excellence within Norwegian industry. The next wave of industrial improvement is widely considered to be driven by the application of digital technologies. Digitalization should not replace lean management. Rather industrial companies are seeking to understand how the two approaches can be utilized synergistically. This project aims to develop theories and managerial guidelines for digitalization of Norwegian industry based on lean principles with respect to planning, decisions systems, supplier collaboration and work organization.
The project’s primary objective is to understand how paradoxes between lean and digitalization can be managed to enable strategic digitalization of Norwegian industry based on lean principles.
Three of the projects secondary objectives are:
- Pinpoint and understand the tensions, barriers and opportunities between lean and digitalization, and assess how these tensions best can be managed in Norwegian industry
- Develop theories and managerial guidelines for digitalization of Norwegian industry based on lean principles with respect to of planning, decisions systems, supplier collaboration and work organization.
- Demonstrate the application of these guidelines in the participating companies and document how they lead to improved manufacturing performance.
Frontiers of knowledge and technology
The main concepts in this research project are lean management and digital manufacturing technologies. We propose that novel theoretical insights can be developed by framing the relationship between the two main concepts as a paradox. These insights will form the basis for managerial guidelines, leading to workplace innovations.
Lean management was ultimately a description of the philosophy and production system of the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. Lean was subsequently presented as the global solution to improve efficiency and quality. A defining principle of lean management is extensive involvement of shop-floor workers in productive problem-solving and operational management more widely. Resonating strongly with national traditions for worker participation and industrial democracy, this principle has been elaborated in the notion of “Lean på Norsk”, through an extensive collaboration between researchers and industrial partners.
Digital manufacturing technologies
In an effort to re-industrialize, the German government coined “Industry 4.0” at the Hannover trade fair in 2011. New concepts, like cyber-physical system, internet of things, big data, digital twin, block chain and collaborative robot were introduced. Some of these concepts are old technologies recombined in new ways, and often incorporated with new technologies. The overreaching goal of Industry 4.0 is to create highly flexible, yet high volume production lines. All of these technologies are powerful by themselves and create new opportunities.
Knowledge development through a paradox perspective
Framing the relationship between lean and digitalization as a paradox is original with respect to the management literature. In this project, we will dive deeper into how paradoxes between lean and digitalization can be managed to enable strategic digitalization of Norwegian industry based on lean principles.
- Daryl Powell, research manager, email: , phone: + 47 403 36 838
- Eirin Lodgaard, senior research scientist, email: phone: + 47 995 44 358