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Defining the foundation of lean manufacturing in the context of its origins (Japan)

Lookup NU author(s): Colin Herron, Professor Paul Braiden


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Manufacturing companies in the West are preoccupied with a contest for survival with emerging economies. One of the established tools in the contest is lean manufacturing. This paper reports work with a recognised exemplar in lean manufacturing combined with a study visit to Japanese companies that have identified a core of manufacturing best practice. This has, in turn, supported a regional research programme designed to increase productivity in general manufacturing. The outcomes of this programme lead to questions regarding current western thinking / writing with respect to the introduction of lean manufacturing, along with the associated tools / techniques. The result is three propositions: (1) The central point is that the cultural difference between the original source of a concept and the intended recipient is a major factor in the potential success or failure of a change programme; (2) The second is that the techniques of lean manufacturing are explicit, but have become confused by re-classifications and the apparent desire in the West to present "solution packages" (Typical packages include Six-Sigma, Theory of Constraints, Lean Manufacturing and, recently, Lean Six-Sigma); and (3) A further proposition is that the imposition of "solution packages" can be both confusing and potentially harmful. While the basic tools of manufacturing best practice are discrete, for maximum benefit and sustainability, they are dependent on each other, which often is not appreciated. © 2007 ISAM.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Herron C, Braiden PM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Agile Manufacturing

Year: 2007

Volume: 10

Issue: 2

Pages: 89-101

Print publication date: 01/01/2007

ISSN (print): 1536-2639

ISSN (electronic): 1758-7786

Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.