Strategic Alignment between Industry 4.0 and Operational Excellence methodologies for Smart manufacturing


Industry 4.0 (I4.0) is a new industrial paradigm that enables smart connectivity with manufacturing processes to help corporations achieve superior performance. I4.0 characterizes the adoption of smart technologies by industries to gain competitive advantages in the global market [1]. German Industrial and Academic communities conceptualized I4.0 with the main aim of presenting digital manufacturing system operates in a controlled environment that minimizes human intervention [2, 3]. Recently, the adoption of digital technologies such as cyber-physical systems (CPS), cloud computing, additive manufacturing, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, etc. provides new paradigms for productivity improvements, operational excellence (OPEX) and service excellence [4].  The manufacturing industries are experiencing a technological revolution marked by superior operational performance achieved by the growing decision-making capabilities of systems. With the realization of I4.0 technologies, industries target a high level of operational excellence [5]. Further, I4.0 technologies can help operations in many ways, such as reducing processing time, production cost, improving process flexibility, achieving world class product quality, customer service, product customization, etc. [6]. Adopting and implementing I4.0 technologies need infrastructure and other structural changes, which require substantial capital investments, and OPEX methodologies on the other hand are capable to provide economically feasible solutions to industries without much capital investments [7]. The literature has revealed that the combined application of OPEX methodologies such as Lean, Six Sigma, Agile, and Kaizen etc. and information technology tools are crucial to realize the fourth industrial revolution [8, 9].

I4.0 has been endorsed as the primary strategy to improve productivity, economic progress and safeguard the sustainability of manufacturing firms. Many industries have already implemented Lean, Six Sigma Lean Six Sigma and Agile methodologies over the past 3 decades in reducing waste, achieving performance consistency and higher throughput yields for core processes and enhancing customer experience with their products and services. I4.0 and OPEX approaches share some common goals, although they work in a very different manner [10]. Despite sharing similar objectives of overall improvement, investigation on synergetic integration between Industry 4.0 and OPEX strategies need further research. This assimilation might avoid special team formation for Industry 4.0 and OPEX initiatives implementation in manufacturing industries. Thus, the fourth industrial revolution urges manufacturing industries to revisit their current OPEX strategies and review whether their forgoing OPEX strategy must be adapted or re-examined with Industry 4.0 technologies.

With this special issue, we aim to address the following research questions:

1.How can manufacturing industries integrate operational excellence strategies with Industry 4.0 technologies for improved operational, financial, environmental, and social performance levels?

2.How are the benefits be maximized with the assimilation of Industry 4.0 and OPEX techniques?

3.What are the implementation frameworks for integrating OPEX with I4.0?

4.What are the critical challenges of integrating OPEX with I4.0?

The main aim for this special issue is

  1. To examine how manufacturing industries, integrate operational excellence strategies with Industry 4.0 technologies for improved operational, financial, environmental, and social performance levels.
  2. To understand how the benefits can be maximized with the assimilation of Industry 4.0 and OPEX techniques.
  3. To study the implementation frameworks for integrating OPEX with I4.0
  4. To assess the critical challenges of integrating OPEX with I4.0
  5. Thus, the editorial panel will only consider articles which contribute to research, practice and teaching in these areas.

Indicative list of anticipated themes

  1. Integration of OPEX strategies with I 4.0 technologies (Additive manufacturing, augmented reality, Cloud manufacturing, IIoT, Big data & analytics etc) in Manufacturing sector.
  2. Benefits / challenges of Integration of OPEX strategies with I 4.0 technologies
  3. Implementation frameworks for integrating OPEX with I4.0
  4. Smart manufacturing, Operational excellence and organizational performance.
  5. Quality Management in Smart Manufacturing
  6. Lean, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma integration with Operational Excellence in manufacturing
  7. Practical case studies on OPEX using digitalization in different sub sectors (Aviation, Automotive, Mining and Metals, food products, rubber and petrochemicals, chemicals, and electrical machinery etc)
  8. Smart manufacturing and productivity improvement
  9. Industrial automation and operational excellence

Manuscript submission and review process

In preparing of manuscripts, authors are expected to follow the TQM author guidelines, that can be found here. All submissions to be made via the TQM Journal ScholarOne manuscript submission portal, located at:

All papers should be submitted in English. Non-native English speakers are urged to have their manuscript proofread prior to submission. Manuscripts should not have been previously published or be under consideration by other journals. All submissions will be screened by the guest editors, and if they fit to the topics and have sufficient quality, they will be sent out to a team of reviewers to undergo the usual double-blind peer review process.

The SI opening date: 1st May 2022
The deadline of submission is: 31st July 2022.
The publication of this special issue is expected in Q1 2023.
For any queries regarding submission, please contact the special issue guest editors via email.

Special issue guest editors             

Rajeev Rathi, Lovely Professional University, [email protected]

Michael Sony, University of Witwatersrand, [email protected]

Jiju Antony, Khalifa University,
[email protected]

Raja Jayaraman, Khalifa University,
[email protected]

Mahender Singh Kaswan, Lovely Professional University, [email protected]


1. Castelo-Branco, I., Cruz-Jesus, F., & Oliveira, T. (2019). Assessing Industry 4.0 readiness in manufacturing: Evidence for the European Union. Computers in Industry, 107, 22-32.

2. Kagermann, H., Wahlster, W., & Helbig, J. (2013). Securing the future of German manufacturing industry. Recommendations for implementing the strategic initiative INDUSTRIE, 4(199), 14.

3. Kagermann, H., Lukas, W. D., & Wahlster, W. (2011). Industrie 4.0: Mit dem Internet der Dinge auf dem Weg zur 4. industriellen Revolution. VDI nachrichten, 13(1), 2-3.

4. Sun, Y., Yan, H., Lu, C., Bie, R., & Thomas, P. (2012). A holistic approach to visualizing business models for the internet of things. Communications in Mobile Computing, 1(1), 1-7.

5. Mangla, S. K., Kusi-Sarpong, S., Luthra, S., Bai, C., Jakhar, S. K., & Khan, S. A. (2020). Operational excellence for improving sustainable supply chain performance. Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, 162, 105025.

6. Tortorella, G. L., & Fettermann, D. (2018). Implementation of Industry 4.0 and lean production in Brazilian manufacturing companies. International Journal of Production Research, 56(8), 2975-2987.

7. Dev, N. K., Shankar, R., & Qaiser, F. H. (2020). Industry 4.0 and circular economy: Operational excellence for sustainable reverse supply chain performance. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 153, 104583.

8. Ghobakhloo, M., & Fathi, M. (2019). Corporate survival in Industry 4.0 era: the enabling role of lean-digitized manufacturing. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management.

9. Buer, S. V., Strandhagen, J. O., & Chan, F. T. (2018). The link between Industry 4.0 and lean manufacturing: mapping current research and establishing a research agenda. International journal of production research, 56(8), 2924-2940.

10. Rosin, F., Forget, P., Lamouri, S., & Pellerin, R. (2020). Impacts of Industry 4.0 technologies on Lean principles. International Journal of Production Research, 58(6), 1644-1661.