Digital technologies as lean augmentation: a preliminary study of Japanese automotive manufacturers
by Takefumi Mokudai; Martin Schröder; Marvin Müller; Carsten Schaede; Hajo Holst; Robert Sinopoli; Ulrich Jürgens; Gary Herrigel; Katsuki Aoki
International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management (IJATM), Vol. 21, No. 3, 2021

Abstract: This paper explores how Japanese automotive manufacturers, whose production systems are characterised by the lean principle, address digital transformation. We conducted case studies of seven Japanese car makers and suppliers to investigate the interplay between lean production and digitalisation. We found that the firms selectively adopted digital technologies to enhance the existing lean production system. We labelled this type of digitalisation 'lean augmentation'. Further, we developed theoretical hypotheses regarding the potential of digitalisation to limit kaizen, the roles of human involvement and organisational coordination in digitalised manufacturing, and the potential risk of lean augmentation being caught by what we term the 'lean trap'.

Online publication date: Wed, 28-Jul-2021

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