A thesis presented at the University of Padua analyses the links between Industry 4.0 and lean production
Taking the challenging path of technological innovation: this is the goal of any company that wishes to ensure a future for itself. However, it is not an easy goal to achieve, and it requires commitment and tenacity, as well as investment. “Lean automation: un’opportunità per le PMI italiane” (“Lean automation: an opportunity for Italian SMEs”), economics student Laura Pierobon’s thesis and body of research at the M. Fanno Department of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of Padua, addresses the theme of the most suitable path towards the digitisation of production. In doing this, the author focuses in particular on SMEs (small and medium enterprises), which are viewed on the one hand as the backbone of the national economy, but on the other, as a weaker element than other organisations.
Pierobon explains how – despite the significant advantages of Industry 4.0 – the way in which this is spread and leads companies to evolve into genuine smart factories remains far from straightforward. “Smaller companies with limited financial resources,” says Pietrobon “such as small and medium enterprises, for example, seem to find it more difficult to deal with a change this far-reaching.” The research thus discusses a possible tool that could be used to better address this issue: the pairing of Industry 4.0 and the lean production system, i.e. an approach that is based on lean automation; simple to understand and implement, and more easily within the reach of smaller production organisations. “These two approaches,” continues Pierobon “appear to share the same objectives, namely to reduce complexity and increase productivity and flexibility, through the elimination of waste, continuous improvement, the creation of an uninterrupted flow of production and the maximisation of value for the customer.”
As such, the research, which is structured in a simple manner, unfolds around an in-depth theoretical study first and foremost, before going on to look at practical implementation: in the first instance, Pierobon focuses on the meaning of Industry 4.0, and then moves on to discuss the possible links between this and lean production, before finally analysing the results of a research project conducted by the Department of Economics and Management at the University of Padua and the CUOA Business School on the adoption of 4.0 and lean principles in Italy.
Pierobon’s work is a useful introduction to a specific topic within the wider theme of technological innovation, and can contribute to giving us a better understanding of the prospects and difficulties that the SME system still faces.
Dissertation. University of Padua, M. Fanno Department of Economics and Business Sciences, Master’s in Economics, 2020