Smart Lean – next generation technologies and how they can improve lean practices in manufacturing

The seminar was organised in collaboration with Lean Forum Midt-Norge and the Erasmus+ project LEAN 4.0. LEAN 4.0 aims to integrate smart technologies with the proven Lean Manufacturing paradigm. Smart digital technologies offer new opportunities for Lean operations. The seminar discussed the possibilities of Smart technologies for the improvement of operations and also how to do this. A large interested group of representatives of Norwegian companies, and representatives of the academic world gathered to discuss these topics.


The seminar included presentations from:

  • Erlend Alfnes, Associate Professor, NTNU – an introduction to the Lean 4.0 project
  • Fabio Sgarbossa, Professor, NTNU – The Logistics 4.0 lab and new opportunities for Lean
  • Jannes Slomp, Professor, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands – Lean planning and control in customised manufacturing: history and digital future
  • Holger Klus, Software architect, Rosen GmbH, Germany – Manufacturing Execution Systems and Digitalization at Rosen GmbH
  • Menno Herkes, Research Fellow, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands – How can smart and Lean improve operations in manufacturing
  • Daryl Powell, Lean Programme Manager, Kongsberg Maritime – Lean and digitalisation at Kongsberg Maritime

Logistics 4.0 laboratory tour

The seminar allowed the participants to visit Norway’s first logistics laboratory that merges digital technologies with traditional production and logistics systems. Some of the smart technologies presented were

  • Smart Workstation with a Kinect device and projector for assisting the operators in assembly activities.
  • Augmented Reality Glasses that give instructions to the operators about which components have to be picked and from where.
  • Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) that can be used for material handling with decentralized decision points.
  • Indoor Positioning System that can be used to track in real time the movements of the resources.
  • 3D mapping for factory layout
  • Motion Capture system

Closure focus group

Participants were invited to participate in a focus group where several questions related to Lean and smart technologies were asked trough the mentimeter application. First, it was identified that most participants associated Lean and smart technologies with “improvement” and the “next step”, as can be seen in the word cloud generated from their input.

Second, we asked them which of the smart technologies presented at the Logistics Laboratory during the seminar they would be interested to implement. We learned that 3D Mapping, Augmented Reality applications and Indoor-Position Systems were more relevant to the participants. Big data, wearable technology and simulation were brought up by the participants as technologies that have potential to improve lean operations in addition of those seen during the visit to the Logistics Laboratory. Participants believe that flow, personnel involvement and Total Productive Maintenance would benefit the most from smart technologies.

We learned most participants are very interested in further exploring the integration of smart technologies and Lean. However, they also identified cost, resistance to change and lack of competence as potential barriers for Digital Lean implementation.


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