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Sustaining performance under operational turbulence: the role of lean in engineer-to-order operations
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Applied Mechanical Engineering (KTH Södertälje). Politecnico Di Milano, Italy.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4123-0721
Politecnico di Milano.
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Industrial Management.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7129-5040
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, ISSN 2040-4166, E-ISSN 2040-4174, Vol. 8, no 4, p. 457-481Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: Many studies have found out that lean practices provide better performance in a stable business environment. However, there is limited information on how lean practices influence performance gains (defined in this paper as improvement and sustenance of performance) in uncertain (complex and dynamic) environment. This study investigates how the implementation of lean helps to sustain performance in such context.

Design/methodology/approach: The study draws on an in-depth investigation of two capital goods manufacturing engineer-to-order (ETO) cases in which performance sustenance is discussed in relation to the extent, locus, and extensiveness of implemented lean practice bundles.

Findings: Findings indicate that a higher extent of lean practices implementation, covering both shop floor and transactional processes increases the possibility of performance sustenance in ETO. Furthermore, coherent approach in the pre-, during-, and post-implementation phases of the lean change process are required to foster performance sustenance. Lean practices in ETO are modified to suit context change from repetitive manufacturing.

Research limitations/implications: This study proposes performance sustenance as a performance measure in highly uncertain context, such as ETO, as a single reference cannot effectively measure performance improvements over diverse orders. From this perspective, appropriate lean implementation contributes to build capabilities for flexibly and proactively managing uncertain circumstances.

Practical Implication: Even companies operating in highly uncertain (complex and dynamic) contexts may benefit of significant performance gains thanks to lean implementation. It can be achieved by a balanced implementation of practices at shop floor and transactional processes, and their mindful customisations.

Originality/value: The study compares lean implementation in ETO with that of high-volume-low-variety systems established in literature. It qualitatively discusses how lean implementation as an overarching effort both in shop floor and transactional processes leads to a better sustenance of achieved performance improvements in shop floor under high uncertainty.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2017. Vol. 8, no 4, p. 457-481
Keywords [en]
case study, engineer-to-order, lean production, performance improvement, uncertainty
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics Economics and Business
Research subject
Industrial Economics and Management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-224320DOI: 10.1108/IJLSS-12-2016-0077ISI: 000413020800004Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85031104386OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-224320DiVA, id: diva2:1190872
Note

QC 20180319

Available from: 2018-03-15 Created: 2018-03-15 Last updated: 2018-03-19Bibliographically approved

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Kaulio, Matti A.

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Birkie, Seyoum EshetuKaulio, Matti A.
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