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The lean experience factory: a digital transformation showcase site

Earlier this year I was responsible for delivering a proof of concept Binocs implementation for a “Lean Experience Factory” and, later, had the opportunity to visit the site itself. With all the recent coverage of digital transformation and Industry 4.0 processes on our blog, I thought this was a good time to highlight a project […]

Earlier this year I was responsible for delivering a proof of concept Binocs implementation for a “Lean Experience Factory” and, later, had the opportunity to visit the site itself. With all the recent coverage of digital transformation and Industry 4.0 processes on our blog, I thought this was a good time to highlight a project that has been specifically designed to demonstrate these principles in practice. 

Why showcase digital transformation practices? 

As you probably know by now, the term “Industry 4.0” is shorthand for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, the ongoing move towards increasingly automated and interconnected industrial systems, leveraging digital technologies to increase productivity by streamlining processes and reducing reliance on human labor for repetitive and monotonous tasks. For most companies, this paradigm shift means transitioning from industrial systems organized around largely analog processes to a model based on digital twins, virtual replicas of their factories and supply chains that can be managed and operated primarily by computers connected to devices via the internet of things (IoT). This shift is commonly referred to as “digital transformation”. 

While most companies – especially those with significant manufacturing operations – recognize the need begin their own digital transformation journey, doing so requires substantial upfront investment. As such, companies are keen to see practical, informed examples of what such a transformation looks like in real life and how they can be delivered with minimum disruption to their business activities. This is why McKinsey, in collaboration with local partners, has developed a range of Digital Capability Centers (DCC) across the globe to provide a forum in which to demonstrate the tangible application of digital transformation practices. 

What is the Lean Experience Factory? 

The Lean Experience Factory (LEF) is the name given to DCC Venice, a joint venture between McKinsey and Confindustria, the General Confederation of Italian Industry. The LEF is a flagship site that has been designed to serve as an educational showcase to demonstrate how digital improvement strategies can be applied to specific fields of industry. 

First established in 2011 as a model factory, the LEF has seen progressive annual development and today boasts a 3,000m² site based an hour outside Venice, Italy. The goal of the site is to simulate a fully end-to-end industrial operation featuring state-of-the-art production line, quality control and back office functions under one roof. Here, specialist advisers deliver in-person and remote workshops to companies seeking to learn about new processes that can be implemented across the entire chain, from product development and procurement to logistics and sales. 

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Workshop attendees are first presented with examples of traditional processes (including physical log books, planning boards, whiteboards, and SOPs) that highlight the shortcomings of pre-transformation operations and provide a forum in which to review common process pain points. These can include issues related to security, maintenance, manufacturing errors, waste cycling, setup of the working environment, and many others, all specific to the customer’s field.  

Attendees are then educated on how to set up a digitally-enabled, lean workspace before returning to the reorganized demonstration area to experience the real thing, now featuring digital whiteboards, visual KPIs, automated guided vehicles, robotic manipulator arms, and connected analysis devices to provide automated equipment setup and results capture. This is where the Binocs system is also presented, effectively demonstrating how digitalized planning (with scenario-based analysis) and scheduling (instead of the classic whiteboard) can improve processes in the lab. 

Being a part of the LEF represents a great showcase to highlight our role in organizing the future of manufacturing and quality operations, especially in the pharma and life sciences sector. Adjusting to the future of industrial practices is going to be a challenging but vital process for many organizations, large and small, and we are enthusiastic about participating in initiatives designed to assist and support companies in this transition. 

We will further explain this topic in more detail in one of our upcoming webinars. If you would like to be invited, just send a message to our colleague Hannah De Rycke.