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HomeProcurement/Supply Chain ManagementIntegrating Digital Transformation in Lean Supply Chain

Integrating Digital Transformation in Lean Supply Chain

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A digital lean approach constitutes a combination of lean management practices, design thinking, advanced digital technologies and analytics.

Once properly implemented, a digital lean supply chain can double the savings of traditional lean initiatives in several operational KPIs, amplifying the advantages of traditional lean.

As we all know, the foundation of traditional lean is the idea that work should be carried out more quickly, better, and more affordably, with employees fully involved as partners in continuous improvement.

With the addition of technology to the lean framework, the second wave of transformation is now underway. Manufacturers can now have unprecedented visibility throughout the entire process, from procuring raw materials to delivering the finished product, thanks to the modern manufacturing process’ tremendous data generation. Digital lean manufacturing has brought about breakthrough improvements in productivity and profitability.

Planning a Digital Transformation in Lean Manufacturing Setup

Lean and digital integration can assist businesses in locating and utilizing the most powerful levers for digital transformation. Without taking any risks with pilot tests or actual implementation, digital lean enables you to mimic scenarios (digital twinning), methodically test theories, and determine precise costs. This strategy is useful for planning a digital transition on three levels:

(1) It spots complexity in the design phase

Lean identifies redundancies before digitization even starts. It singles out unnecessary process steps that will not add a client or overall business value.

(2) It optimizes existing systems and operations

Applying the digital lean approach to managing infrastructure and legacy technologies makes enterprise operations more cost-effective and agile. It also helps release resources for investments for the future instead of locking them into maintenance.

(3) It simplifies the building phase

Lean practices support a simpler transformation with less displacement of legacy technologies, people and processes. This helps companies move faster and with fewer risks of surprises.

Benefits of Digital Lean Implementation

(1) The flow of material involves several parties in any manufacturing company, including procurement, material planning, production planning, sales, finance, and fulfillment. The fragmented procedures, databases, technologies, and dashboards that these teams frequently use restrict end-to-end visibility of the material process. Therefore, the first step is to eliminate the silos and unify the data to enable end-to-end access. The secret to significant cost savings, enhanced operational efficiency, better quality, and increased production is a complete insight into the whole material cycle.

(2) Digital lean enhances the advantages of traditional lean by allowing businesses to coordinate improvement efforts across their international enterprises. This means that it can quadruple the savings achieved by conventional lean initiatives in terms of OEE, inventory reduction, labor productivity, plant logistics cost reduction, plant output improvement, and production time reduction.

(3) The digital levers of Industry 4.0 include smart energy usage, remote monitoring, digital performance management, and predictive maintenance. By resulting in improvements in quality, asset utilization, resource management, and speed to market, all of these add value.

(4) Manufacturers run the risk of upsetting customers who might decide to switch to a rival with a more consistent supply. Through improved visibility into work-in-progress inventory throughout the whole production cycle, real-time data analytics can help to spot discrepancies between client demand and inventory.

(5) Products with flaws are expensive in every way. Quality control errors lead to consumer returns and needless expenses. To swiftly detect faults, IoT sensors positioned strategically all along the production line can be employed. These interconnected gadgets can take precise measurements and compare each unit to a set of specified criteria.

Keys To Implementing Digital Lean Manufacturing Practices

Implementing digital lean manufacturing can dramatically improve operations. Here’s how to get the most out of this data-driven approach to manufacturing. 

(1) Begin with small, achievable goals

It takes time to integrate digital lean manufacturing methods throughout a complete company. Over time, a lot of little adjustments add up to bigger ones. Decide on one area that is ready for improvement to start, and then create a sequence of little measures that will help your business achieve the bigger objective.

(2) Secure stakeholders buy-in 

It takes widespread cooperation from upper management and team members operating on the factory floor to implement digital lean manufacturing principles. A successful transition to digital lean methods must start with a discussion of the advantages for all parties. 

(3) Invest in the necessary digital technologies

The efficiency of digital lean manufacturing processes depends on the data and technology that support them. Robots-connected IoT sensors, smart tools, and computerized machinery are all excellent sources of useful data. By investing in these technologies, you can secure a firm foundation for your digital transformation.


A digital lean strategy combines analytics, design thinking, cutting-edge digital technologies, and lean management techniques. Alternately, we may say that Industry 4.0 and other digital tools are used by digital lean to deliver more precise, timely, and accurate information regarding operations. Digital Lean can not only bring in more visibility and efficiency in supply chains but can make the supply chains more sustainable.

Also read: Lean Management, Core Principles and Benefits

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Shantanu Trivedi
Shantanu Trivedi
Shantanu Trivedi is working as a faculty at the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun. He holds an MBA and a Ph.D. degree in Supply chain management. He has more than a decade of experience in teaching and research. He has published 2 books, 5 book chapters and more than 12 research papers and articles in international journals of repute. His research interest includes Supply chain management, agribusiness, online and distance education, Business sustainability and infrastructure management. He is the reviewer of many international publishing houses. He has presented his work and won awards at many research conferences and symposiums. He has worked on many research with state governments and the government of India. In his spare time, Shantanu loves to travel and explore nature.
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