Industry 4.0 adoption as a moderator of the impact of lean production practices on operational performance improvement

Guilherme Tortorella, Ricardo Giglio, Desirée H. van Dun

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    Purpose – This article examines the moderating role of Industry 4.0 technologies on the relationship between Lean Production (LP) and operational performance improvement within Brazil: a developing economy context.
    Design/methodology/approach – One representative from each of the 147 studied manufacturing companies filled in a survey on three internally-related lean practice bundles and two Industry 4.0 technology bundles, with safety, delivery, quality, productivity and inventory as performance indicators. As this study was grounded on the contingency theory, multivariate data analyses were performed, controlling for four contingencies.
    Findings – Industry 4.0 moderates the effect of LP practices on operational performance improvement, but in different directions. Process-related technologies negatively moderate the effect of low setup practices on performance, whereas product/service-related technologies positively moderate the effect of flow practices on performance.
    Originality/value – With the advent of Industry 4.0, companies have been channelling their efforts to achieve superior performance by advancing levels of automation and interconnectivity. Eventually, widespread and proven manufacturing approaches, like LP, will integrate such technologies which may, in turn, impair or favour operational performance. Contrary to previous studies, the contingencies appeared to have a less extensive effect. We point to various options for further study across different socio-economic contexts. This study evidenced that purely technological adoption will not lead to distinguished results. LP practices help in the installation of organisational habits and mindsets that favour systemic process improvements, supporting the design and control of manufacturers’ operations management towards the fourth industrial revolution era.
    Keywords: Industry 4.0, Lean production, Operational performance improvement, Emerging economies
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)860-886
    JournalInternational journal of operations & production management
    Issue number6/7/8
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2019


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