Purpose – The aim of this research paper is to present the critical factors that constitute a successful implementation of lean manufacturing within manufacturing SMEs. Design/methodology/approach – A combination of comprehensive literature review and visits to ten SMEs based in the East of the UK were employed in the study. The companies' practices were observed to highlight the degree of lean manufacturing utilisation within these companies. This was followed by interviewing of the relevant and key personnel involved in lean implementation. Results were analysed and validated through workshops, case studies and Delphi techniques. Findings – Several critical factors that determine the success of implementing the concept of lean manufacturing within SMEs are identified. Leadership, management, finance organisational culture and skills and expertise, amongst other factors; are classified as the most pertinent issues critical for the successful adoption of lean manufacturing within SMEs environment. Research limitations/implications – Continued scepticism within SMEs about the benefits of lean to their business is one of the fundamental limitations this research faces. SMEs are, therefore, not very willing to provide useful information and data, timely for further investigation. Originality/value – The novelty of this research project stems from the realisation of critical factors determining a successful implementation of lean manufacturing within SMEs environment. The results would provide SMEs with indicators and guidelines for a successful implementation of lean principles.
Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 1, 2006
Keywords: Lean production; Small to medium‐sized enterprises; Critical success factors
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