Lean Implementation in a Low Volume Manufacturing Environment: a Case Study
Simmons, L., Holt, R., Dennis, G., & Walden, C. (2009). Lean Implementation in a Low Volume Manufacturing Environment: a Case Study. IERC 2010 Conference. Cancun, Mexico: IERC.
Lean production refers to approaches initially developed by Toyota that focuses on the elimination of waste in all forms. Lean has been extremely successful in large high volume manufacturers. However, many small to medium size low volume manufacturers have not fully embraced the potential benefits of a lean production system. This paper focuses on the implementation of lean in a small manufacturer of all electric 4-wheel drive vehicles. The goal was to increase the capacity and throughput rates, reduce lead-times, and improve quality and efficiency while reducing operating costs. Through basic lean tools such as 5S, standardized work, line balancing, visual controls, point of use storage, and quality at the source. Through the implementation of these basic tools, the small manufacturer was able to triple throughput and reduce quality defects by 80%. Based on observations derived from this case study, hypothesis statements are generated regarding obstacles and solutions to lean implementation in small and medium manufacturing enterprises.