Purpose - This paper discusses the impact of emerging automation technologies on the reduction of waste/muda in Lean manufacturing. Two industrial cases are used to highlight the increasing complexity of investment decisions and technology management.
Design/methodology/approach - The 7 wastes are mapped along with their drivers in an automated manufacturing cell. Using two industrial cases; non-contact robotized scanning of car structures and force control de-burring, as illustrative examples their impact on drivers and waste reduction is established.
Findings - Emerging technology has a high potential for reducing waste, not only on a cell level but also up-, and downstream the actual manufacturing process, for example on programming efforts. However, this increases the complexity of how technology impacts waste, and to what extent and scope.
Research limitations/implications - New models for planning of manufacturing cells have to be researched that consider the possible impact of technology solutions to a wide aspect of the manufacturing organization.
Practical implications - The identified drivers of waste in automation along with the presented waste reducers can be used by industry practitioners as a tool to evaluate and design manufacturing cells.
Originality/value - This paper links new automation technologies with the waste concept and discusses the issues of increasing complexity in manufacturing, which is valuable for researchers and practitioners in technology management. It also lists drivers and summarizes possible technical solutions for waste reduction.