Hyperconnected Manufacturing: from Lean to Smart

Lionel Grealou Data Industry 4.0 Manufacturing 2 minutes

Hyperconnectivity defines connectivity at a new level, multi-devices, multi-locations, multi-media, multi-purpose—bridging across platforms, silos, and bringing people together with ‘everywhere data‘ and social interactions through the digital world. It is already there today, we are all part of it – or, to be more precise, at the middle of it. Hyperconnectivity is obviously enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT)—acronym born from rapid developments in internet connectivity which have given rise to profound change at technological, social, political and economic levels. 

Enterprise Manufacturing comprises a global plant floor which requires that the network of production facilities operates as a single virtual plant, i.e. same or integrated / aligned processes (for comparison and operations alignment and measurement purposes). This ‘hyperconnected world‘ brings (the potential of) hyper-accelerated innovation to businesses in a context of real-time data mining and live dash-boarding – hence (the potential of) competitive advantage. In the manufacturing world, this will bring new business dynamics driven by the new connectivity paradigm, such as the Industry 4.0 with smart-virtual-digital factories.

This links to a very old question: where does competitiveness come from? The answer has evolved since initially answered by Michael Porter (one among other strategy gurus) who stated that:

The only meaningful concept of competitiveness at the national level is productivity.

While the statement is still relevant, competitive advantage has evolved from lean manufacturing, lean management, technology-enabled global supply chains, to new level of ‘all-connected‘ integrated data-driven smarter ways of working, creating and innovating

Lean became synonymous with modern manufacturing, until modern economics derailed the transformation journey for some companies.

Since then, Manufacturing technology and information management have come a long way.

Nowadays, Engineering also plays a critical role in creating value in a lean enterprise.

Factories of the future will move from lean to smart, in an ‘hyperconnected way‘. The IoT can include connected intelligence in different elements of factory infrastructure, starting from the source, Product Development and Engineering:

  • Integrated digital tools and technologies to reduce waste, improve quality and productivity, and increase throughput.
  • Virtual simulation (mechanical, electrical, etc. Engineering).
  • Knowledge share and reuse.
  • Design for Manufacturing and assembly (DFMA).
  • Integrated master data management.
  • Requirement-driven Engineering and Design, focusing on customer value.
  • Product Development Life-Cycle (PDLC)—aka Product Life-cycle Management (PLM).
  • End-to-end digital integration across PLM and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
  • New value networks, both horizontally (supply chain and extended enterprise) and vertically (from shop floor to top floor and across manufacturing systems to enable ‘design everywhere, build everywhere‘ strategies).
  • High performing teams, connected to both physical and digital processes.
  • New social infrastructures in the workplace.

The impact / demand of IoT and hyperconnectivity to the manufacturing industry is still uncertain. One thing for sure is that it is changing rapidly and will require new approaches, new models, new technologies (or new ways of using old ones), new skills, new ways of working, new PLM solutions.

What are your thoughts?


  • Cheok A (2015) Hyperconnectivity and the Future of Internet Communication, Lambert Academic Publishing.
  • Ward A (2007) Lean Product and Process Development, The Lean Enterprise Institute, Cambridge, MA.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 31 August 2015.

About the Author

Lionel Grealou


Lionel Grealou, a.k.a. Lio, helps original equipment manufacturers transform, develop, and implement their digital transformation strategies—driving organizational change, data continuity and process improvement, managing the lifecycle of things across enterprise platforms, from PDM to PLM, ERP, MES, PIM, CRM, or BIM. Beyond consulting roles, Lio held leadership positions across industries, with both established OEMs and start-ups, covering the extended innovation lifecycle scope, from research and development, to engineering, discrete and process manufacturing, procurement, finance, supply chain, operations, program management, quality, compliance, marketing, etc.

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