On account of today's intensified conditions of competition and the competitive differentiation through technological advantages, the product lifecycles have become increasingly shorter with a concurrent increase in the development effort. Alongside this, the increasing number of the product variations offered additionally causes a higher complexity in the product development process. A continuous improvement process for production as well as for the product origin is an important design principle. The approach of seeking to improve the products and processes as well as the employees every day is the core of Lean Development. Standardization ensures that the improvements achieved thus far are also maintained as standards and that these can become a state-of-the-art process across all locations. Without standards, employees would perform their work individually and it could not be guaranteed that the current best practice would be implemented. By means of a flowing and demand-oriented process, there is the potential to distribute the workload as evenly as possible. Through the design principle of employee orientation and goal-oriented leadership, the vital aspect of leadership in the product development process is taken into account. The Zero Error Principle combines methods and tools that include a focal point for quality-enhancing measures. The transparency is clearly increased through visual management. The design principle of Frontloading takes the special significance of the early stages in the product development process into account.
Just the same as the Lean Production approach, Lean Development has its origins with Toyota in Japan. The potentials of Lean Development reach from a shortened development time through to the development of higher valued products and up to the more efficient design of the product development process. While car companies from North America and Europe were able to shorten the development time of 36 to 40 months to 24 months at the end of the 1980s, Toyota actually managed a time of 15 months – and in one case, this was even only 10 months. The company was not only able to shorten its development time, it additionally developed highly qualitative vehicles with lower costs and a by far higher profit than its competition. The short development time from Design Freeze to Start of Production demonstrates the high quality of results. At the same time, the expenditures are lower for Research and Development, relative to sales, than with car manufacturers from North America or Europe. Consequently, it is the aim of Lean Development to implement shortened and efficient processes of development. The efficient and effective product development process of Japanese companies is based on the application of Lean Development methods. The Japanese approach of Lean Development has now been adapted and implemented by North American and European companies in order to generate a similarly efficient product development process and to close the gap with Japanese companies.
Lean Development 4.0 maps out the advancement of the Lean Development approach through the implementation of modern information technologies and communication technologies into the product development process and in the existing methods of Lean Development described. Similar to a Lean Production System, the regulatory framework of Lean Development is divided into goals, processes, principles, methods and tools whereby the methods and tools represent the executable component of Lean Development. In the future, these methods will more or less be strongly influenced by Industry 4.0. The implementation of these known methods will be improved by Industry 4.0. Alongside this, new methods will be integrated into Lean Development 4.0 through Industry 4.0. This particularly concerns the area of virtual product development as well as the virtual safeguarding and closing the bridges between product development, process planning and factory planning.
The application of Lean Development, fortified with Industry 4.0, offers methodical as well as technological support for the efficient development of waste-free products and processes. As a possibility to generate other significant process improvements in the Lean Development System, the technologically driven approach of Industry 4.0 is currently being pursued and integrated into the product development process. To call a few examples by name here, the application of smart glasses in process development and the 3D printing process in the field of prototype construction as well as a continuous data management throughout the complete engineering. Through this consistency of data throughout the product development process, for example, lean development methods can be further developed and a new best practice for the implementation of these methods can be generated. Moreover, additional new methods (based on Industry 4.0) can be integrated into the Lean Development System 4.0 method catalogue. For example, the product planning and process planning as well as a virtual safeguarding are to be mentioned here. In the Lean Development method of set-based engineering, virtual product and process planning as well as virtual safeguarding results in the availability of high-quality data in the development and selection of sets, thus providing that a safeguarded decision and selection of sets can be made. Lean Development 4.0 is therefore based on the existing Lean Development System and allows for additional potentials concerning an effective and efficient product development process. The expansion of Lean Development with Industry 4.0 and a continuous data management leads to a safeguarded, more efficient, shorter, cheaper and more resource-sparing development of processes and products.