Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale

Lean Management and Industry 4.0

About the project

The research stream investigates the interactions between Lean Management and the digital revolution of Industry 4.0, aiming at identifying the synergetic effects. In particular, we aim at developing frameworks, methodologies, and tools to support companies in maximizing the benefits of Lean management thanks to the opportunities of the new technologies. And also to support companies in making their digital investment decisions coherent with the Lean approach.

Principal Investigators:  Alberto Portioli Staudacher, Fabiana Dafne Cifone, Matteo Rossini

Researcher team: Alberto Portioli Staudacher, Fabiana Dafne Cifone, Federica Costa, Kaustav Kundu, Monica Rossi, Matteo Rossini, Bassel Kassem, Leonardo Lispi, Alessia Valvo

Funders: Private funding: FICEP, Osservatorio Operational Excellence (ed. 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)

Duration: 2016-onwards

Partners: Oxford University, KLU University, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, University of Cardiff, FICEP, Lean Enterprise Institute, MISE (Italian Ministry for Economic Development).


Lean Management is the most important organisational innovation of the last 50 years. Industry 4.0 is the most recent technological revolution. Our early studies show that the two innovations may have strong synergies, but also that it is not clear how to achieve them. Therefore the main goals of this research line are the following:

  1.  Digitalising Lean: Map the existing offer of Lean digital tools, and understand the advantages they bring to lean implementations. Develop frameworks, methodologies, and tools to support companies in implementing such Lean digital tools.
  2. Lean digitalisation: many investments in digitalisation increase efficiency, as we have dramatically seen in many industries. But not all investments are in line with the Lean approach. We want to develop frameworks, methodologies, and tools to support companies in identifying the right Industry 4.0 investments in the light of Lean Management so to exploit synergies among the two innovations.
  3. Improving lean through digitalisation:  lean principles implementations face some physical limitations that digitalisation can simplify or overcome. As e-kanban has simplified replenishment pull with far away suppliers, digitalisation can speed up transactions, allow a faster and easier monitoring and a quicker analysis of possible causes of problems. We want to investigate how present digital tools can  improve lean practices.
  4. Leading technology development through Lean: digital technology can evolve in many different directions. It is hard now to identify an activity that in the future will not be carried out by computers. The key issue then it is to identify what development are more useful, and we will develop guidelines, to direct the development toward what it is more useful to make a company leaner.



  • Rossini, M., Costa, F., Tortorella, G. L., & Portioli-Staudacher, A. (2019). The interrelation between industry 4.0 and lean production: An empirical study on european manufacturers. International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, doi:10.1007/s00170-019-03441-7 [Scopus-Q1 and WoS]
  • Kundu, K., Rossini, M., & Portioli-Staudacher, A. (2019). A study of a kanban based assembly line feeding system through integration of simulation and particle swarm optimization. International Journal of Industrial Engineering Computations, 10(3), 421-442. doi:10.5267/j.ijiec.2018.12.001 [Scopus-Q1 and WoS]
  •  Costa, F., Lispi, L., Staudacher, A. P., Rossini, M., Kundu, K., & Cifone, F. D. (2019). How to foster sustainable continuous improvement: A cause-effect relations map of lean soft practices. Operations Research Perspectives, 6 doi:10.1016/j.orp.2018.100091 [Scopus-Q1 and WoS]
  • F.D. Cifone, K. Hoberg, M. Holweg, A. Portioli Staudacher, ‘Lean 4.0’: How can digital technologies support lean practices?, 2019, EurOMA Conference, Helsinki
  • Kundu, K., Rossini, M., & Portioli-Staudacher, A. (2018). Analysing the impact of uncertainty reduction on WLC methods in MTO flow shops. Production and Manufacturing Research, 6(1), 328-344. doi:10.1080/21693277.2018.1509745 [Scopus-Q1 and WoS]
  • Rossini, M., & Portioli, A. (2018). Supply chain planning: A quantitative comparison between lean and info-sharing models. Production and Manufacturing Research, 6(1), 264-283. doi:10.1080/21693277.2018.1509744 [Scopus-Q1 and WoS]
In press
  • Rossini, M., Audino, F., Costa, F., F., Cifone, F. D., Kundu, K., & Portioli-Staudacher, A. (2019). Extending Lean frontiers: a kaizen case study in an Italian MTO manufacturing company. International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, doi: 10.1007/s00170-019-03990-x [Scopus-Q1 and WoS]
Accepted and resubmitted
  • Tortorella, G. L., Rossini, M., Costa, F., Portioli-Staudacher, A., & Sawhney, R. A comparison on Industry 4.0 and Lean Production between manufacturers from emerging and developed economies. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence [Scopus-Q1 and WoS]