An assessment of small to medium size manufacturers practicing lean manufacturing in Indiana

Alister Alleyne McLeod, Purdue University


There is a lack of conceptual tools used to assess the efficacy and importance of operational improvement strategies in small to medium size manufacturing firms (SMMs) in the US. By building on past research done in this area this study sheds light on the use and adoption of lean manufacturing; an operational improvement strategy widely viewed as being important to the survival of many manufacturers worldwide. This study makes use of a survey originally developed by Shah and Ward (2007) to first develop a conceptual model of lean adoption in SMMs and then apply this model to lean manufacturing firms in Indiana. The results from this study find that SMMs in Indiana are strong adopters of the social factors that comprise the lean manufacturing strategy but weak adopters of the technical factors that make-up the technique. Supplier/customer relationships and team building opportunities are the two social lean manufacturing strategies that SMMs in Indiana have extensively implemented. The single technical factor that has extensive adoption is flow production which focuses mainly on the improvement of routine tasks. This dissertation also reveals a new factor that falls outside of the socio-technical definition given to the lean manufacturing strategy. Customer driven product development is a newly discovered factor that has extensive implementation by SMMs in Indiana. This newly discovered factor shows that lean manufacturing by itself is not sufficient, thus a program of new product development has to be employed.




Stephens, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Industrial engineering|Operations research

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