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THE BARRIERS TO LEAN MANUFACTURING IMPLEMENTATION

NORANI NORDIN School of Technology Management & Logistics Universiti Utara Malaysia rani@uum.edu.my

BABA MD DEROS Department of Mechanical dan Material Engineering Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia hjbaba@eng.ukm.my

ABSTRACT The transformation to a lean manufacturing system requires both radical and gradual change involving a total reshaping of the purpose, system and culture of the organisation. There are many variables that may impact lean implementation. This paper presents an investigation into the barriers to smooth lean manufacturing implementation. The present study employs an explanatory mixed-method approach that began with survey distribution, and the resulting general picture was further refined by conducting in-depth interviews in Malaysian automotive companies. The quantitative data showed that the main barrier to lean manufacturing implementation is the lack of understanding on lean concept. However, the qualitative results identified further barriers: difficulty in acquiring lean knowledge and skills, lack of support from management, an ineffective lean team, inadequate training and communication, and employees attitudes. Lean implementation is a systemic and continual effort; therefore, it is important to identify and understand the barriers to a smooth transition. Keywords: Lean manufacturing, Barriers, Automotive industry, Implementation.

INTRODUCTION Increasingly, challenges in todays global competition have prompted many manufacturing companies to adopt new manufacturing management strategies in order to enhance the companies efficiency and competitiveness. For that reason, lean manufacturing has become a widely accepted and adopted best manufacturing practice across countries and industries (Holweg, 2007). The ultimate goal of a lean organisation is to create a smoothly-functioning, high-quality system that can produce, without waste, the finished products of the quality that customers demand. However, in reality, many companies are not able to transform themselves into lean manufacturing organisations.

Lean manufacturing should be implemented comprehensively and holistically in terms of both scope and content (Crute et al., 2003). Many researchers have argued that, rather than simply addressing, manufacturing or technical issues, the transition from a traditional to a lean environment requires a cultural change in the organisation radical change in the structure, strategy and culture of an organisation (Smeds, 1994). A clear understanding of how to manage change is required in order to ensure a successful lean transformation. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to examine the barriers that delay or hinder lean manufacturing implementation in manufacturing companies; failure to identify these barriers can lead to fruitless effort. This paper commences with a discussion of why lean fails. Next the study methodology is described used in conducting the study. Finally, the authors discuss the findings gathered from the survey and interviews and conclude with a summary of the major barriers encountered in the lean implementation process. Why does lean fails? Lean manufacturing is a manufacturing strategy that aims to achieve smooth production flow by eliminating waste and increasing the value of manufacturing activities. Some researchers point out that, if an organisation ignores lean manufacturing strategy, it is unlikely to succeed in the current global competition for higher quality, faster delivery and lower costs (Fliedner & Mathieson, 2009; Flott, 2002; Scherrer-Rathje et al., 2009; Srinivasaraghavan & Allada, 2006). This view is supported by the large cross-country analysis conducted by Oliver et al. (1996), which demonstrated that lean manufacturing principles can create high-performance companies. Changing from a traditional manufacturing system to lean manufacturing is not an easy task. The change requires attention to the impacts on both processes and people. Despite extensive documentation of awareness of the benefits gained from lean manufacturing implementation, in reality, few companies are successful (Balle, 2005; Papadopoulou & Ozbayrak, 2005). There are a number of reported problems and issues that contribute to the failure of lean manufacturing implementation. Table 1 summarizes previous studies findings on the barriers that can delay or prevent the implementation of lean manufacturing within organisations. It is apparent from Table 1 that misunderstanding of the real concept and purpose of lean manufacturing is the main barrier to lean manufacturing implementation. Herron and Braiden (2007) and James (2006) suggest the reason for this misunderstanding is cultural differences that arise while transitioning to or translating the lean concept. Such misunderstandings can lead to major issues in lean implementation, including the following: piecemeal adoption of lean tools and techniques (James, 2006), misapplication of lean tools (Herron & Braiden, 2007; Pavnaskar et al., 2003), and failure to develop a lean culture to support the implementation of lean manufacturing in the organisation (Jorgensen et al., 2007).

Table 1 The Barriers to Lean Manufacturing Implementation Authors Bonavia and Marin (2006) Worley and Doolen (2006) Real et al.(2007b) Lee-Mortimer (2008) Scherrer-Rathje et al.(2009) Stewart (2001) Melton (2005) Sohal and Eggelestone (1994) Mathaisel and Comm (2000) Bamber and Dale (2000)

Misunderstanding the concept and purpose of lean Lack of resource availability (time, expertise, financing) Cultural differences Lack of clear communication Lack of top management support for change Lack of interest in and commitment to lean

Another major barrier to lean manufacturing implementation is lack of resources, such as time, expertise and financing. This problem becomes central especially in the adoption of lean manufacturing in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) (Achanga et al., 2006; Bonavia & Marin, 2006; Real et al., 2007). A study by Achanga et al (2006) concludes that SMEs are often less successful in lean implementation compared to large companies because inadequate funding prevents SMEs from recruiting, training, and developing a capable workforce, as well as prevents them from implementing innovations. Support from and partnerships with consultants or other external sources of expertise, which are important for lean transformation, are also very costly for SMEs (Real et al., 2007a). Other major barriers to lean implementation, shown in Table 1, are cultural differences, lack of top management support for change, lack of clear communication and lack of interest in lean manufacturing implementation. As lean manufacturing requires new knowledge and culture change during the transition, it is essential to approach implementation correctly. Awareness of and attention to change are necessary for a successful transition to a lean system (Stewart, 2001).

Crute et al.(2003)

RESEARCH METHODS There are a number of mixed-method research models. For this study, an explanatory mixedmethod design was employed. Barriers to lean manufacturing implementation were first investigated with a quantitative method and then further explained by a qualitative approach. In this design, the quantitative and qualitative data were collected sequentially; the first phase was survey distribution, which was then followed by in-depth interviews to explain or elaborate on the quantitative results. The advantage of this research design is that the quantitative data and results provide a general picture of the research problem; then, further analysis is done through qualitative data collection to refine, extend and explain the general picture (Leech & Onwuegbuzie, 2009). Quantitative study In this stage, a questionnaire was developed for data collection. In order to achieve the objectives of the study, Malaysian automotive manufacturing companies were selected as the target population. The database was obtained from the 2008 Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and SME Corp Malaysia directories. These manufacturing companies are suppliers of electrical, electronic, metal, plastic, rubber and other automotive components. The manufacturing companies involved in this study ranged from mid-size medium to large compan According to SME Corp Malaysia (2010), companies with 51-150 full-time employees are considered mid-size, whereas those with more than 151 full-time employees are deemed large companies. The decision to focus the present study on medium to large companies was based on studies conducted by Shah and Ward (2003; 2007), Bonavia and Marin (2006), and Perez and Sanchez (2000); these studies demonstrated that small manufacturing companies are less likely to implement lean manufacturing LM concepts due to limitation in terms of human resource and financial. The company personnel responding to the survey included managing directors, manufacturing and/or production managers and executives, and quality managers and executives. The questionnaire consisted of three parts: (a) background information on the organisation (year of establishment, ownership, number of employees, and quality system certification); (b) information on the company's lean manufacturing implementation (lean practices implementation, lean drivers, benefits and barriers); and (c) respondent information (job title, department and years of employment). The items in the lean manufacturing implementation section were adapted from Shah and Ward (2003) and Panizzolo (1998). The questions used a five-point Likert scale to measure the extent of implementation described in each item. The scale ranged from 1 to 5, where 1 = no implementation, 2 = little implementation, 3 = some implementation, 4 = extensive implementation, and 5 = complete implementation. For questions concerning lean barriers, the Likert scale ranged from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). For this survey instrument, the primary consideration in the questionnaire design was to keep it short and focused in order to obtain an adequate response rate. To test reliability, Cronbachs alpha was employed to measure the internal consistency of the research instrument. The results demonstrated that the survey instrument had high internal consistency with Cronbachs alpha values 0.70 and, therefore, it is reliable.

Qualitative study After the quantitative study was conducted, a multiple-case study was performed. Three Malaysian automotive manufacturing companies were chosen for in-depth interviews. These companies were selected based on their willingness to participate and their experience in implementing lean initiatives. Therefore, the results from these case studies do not represent the overall status of lean manufacturing in automotive industry. The authors prepared for data collection by first contacting each company to be studied to gain their cooperation, explain the purpose of the study, and record the key contact information. A semi-structured interview guide was developed upon a common case study protocol based on the review of literature and the quantitative survey conducted prior to the case study. The interview protocol was developed to probe the barriers that delay the lean implementation process in automotive companies. To improve research reliability, the same interview protocol was administered to different interviewees for triangulation purposes. The need for triangulation arises from the ethical need to confirm the validity of the data obtained (Yin, 1993). The interview subjects were questioned about their actual experiences. The interviews for each respondent were conducted for approximately two hours. These interviews involved key personnel at each company who were directly involved in the implementation of lean manufacturing. Table 2 summarises the position and tenure of the respondents in each company. Table 2 Summary of the Case Companies Respondents Company A Position Tenure in position (years) Manager TQM Department 18 Company B Manager Manufacturing & Production Department 5 Company C Plant Manager

3 years

A plant tour was requested at all visited companies. During the tour, the lean activities involved were demonstrated and explained in detail. Whenever possible, observation was made of the obstacles faced by the company in implementing lean manufacturing, both as currently adopted and as planned in the near future. The information gathered was recorded in a log book along with the summary of the interviews. The purpose of these observations was primarily to verify the information collected from the interviews.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Quantitative study An initial email was sent to 250 target respondents whose email addresses were obtained from phone calls made to each company listed in the database. Of these, 17 emails failed to be delivered, possibly because either the email addresses were wrong or the addressee had left the

company. A follow-up email was sent one week later to remind respondents who had not yet responded and to acknowledge those who had returned their questionnaires. A total of 19 responses were returned (11 of these were an online survey, and the remaining 7 were sent by email), for a low response rate of 7.6%. Because this initial response rate was not satisfactory, a second approach to the respondent was used. To increase the response rate, the questionnaire was sent to the respondents through postal mail. As a result, the number of responses rose to 61, for a response rate of 24.4%. Table 3 displays the general background of the companies involved in the study. The factors investigated were the types of product produced, age of the company, ownership, size and the quality management system used the company. Most of the respondent companies manufacture metal parts for the automotive industry (44.3%). The majority of the companies involved in this study are categorised as intermediate or old companies, with 42.6% of each. An old company, as defined in this study, is one that was established more than 20 years ago. By comparison, an intermediate company is one that has been in existence between 11 and 20 years. New companies are defined as those established less than 10 years ago. The percentage of new companies in the study was only 13.1%. Table 3 General background of the companies involved in the study (N = 61)
n Types of product produced Assembly Plastic parts Metal parts Electronic parts Electrical parts Rubber parts Company age (year) New (<10) Intermediate (11-20) Old (>20) Company ownership 100% local 100% foreign Joint venture Company size (no. of employees) Medium (50-150) Large (> 151) Quality management systems employed ISO9001 QS9000 ISO/TS16949 ISO14000 OHSAS18001 10 11 27 10 9 2 8 26 26 30 9 22 14 47 35 6 43 38 12 % 16.4 18.3 44.3 16.4 14.8 3.3 13.1 42.6 42.6 49.2 14.8 36.1 22.9 77.1 57.4 10.0 70.5 62.3 19.7

Respondents were also asked about the size and ownership of the companies. Table 3 shows that 77.1% of respondents were from large companies with more than 150 full-time employees. In addition, half of the respondent companies have local ownership (49.2%), while 36.1% have joint venture ownership, and the remaining 14.9% have full foreign ownership. All respondent companies have at least one certification in a relevant field. Examining these results in more detail, we found that 70.5% of total respondent companies are certified by ISO/TS16949. About 62.3% were certified by ISO14000, and 57.4% were certified by ISO9001. Other types of quality certification, such as OHSAS18001 and QS9000, were owned by 19.7% and 10% of respondent companies, respectively. In order to identify the lean status of each respondent company, cluster analysis was performed to classify whether the companies were lean, in-transition towards lean, or non-lean. A cluster is a group computed from the average values of the lean practices variables for all the companies and signifies the extent of lean manufacturing implementation of that group. The lean practice variables were categorised as process and equipment, manufacturing process and control, human resources, supplier relationships, and customer relationships. Companies were classified as nonlean, in-transition towards lean or lean based on the hierarchical cluster analysis of their mean scores for each individual lean practice using squared Euclidian distance between variables. Wards method was used to optimise the minimum variance between clusters. Table 4 shows the mean scores for the three cluster solutions. Table 4 Mean values for three cluster analysis solutions for lean practices Non-lean (A) In-transition (B) Lean (C) n=30 n=14 n=17 3.50 2.81 4.27 Process and equipment Manufacturing process and control 3.54 2.90 4.44 Human resources 3.50 3.10 4.39 Supplier relationships 3.25 2.47 4.05 Customer relationships 3.47 2.74 4.35 ANOVA F p-value 57.36 .00 47.08 .00 36.80 .00 57.54 .00 36.51 .00

As a result of the cluster analysis, the first group (A) comprises 14 companies and is characterised by having low mean values for all five lean practices variables. This suggests that the companies forming this cluster implement few lean manufacturing practices and, for this reason, they are categorised as non-lean companies. The second group (B) includes 30 companies and is characterised having moderate mean values for each of the five variables. This group is categorised as in-transition towards lean manufacturing systems. Finally, the third group (C), comprising 17 companies, is classified as lean because they have high mean values for each lean manufacturing practices variable. The values suggest that, in these companies, lean manufacturing practices are extensively implemented in the organisations operation and management. Table 4 also displays the results of a one-way independent ANOVA test to determine the significance of the differences between means of clusters. The purpose of this test is to examine the cluster predictive validity and consistency with expected practice levels within groups. To

determine the homogeneity of variance, Levene's test was used to assess the equality of variances. The Levenes test showed that all lean practices are not significant (p>0.05) except for process and equipment. It is assumed in Levenes test that the population variances for each group are relatively equal. Again, the F-ratio was used to represent whether the group means are the same. Results for all lean practices, p< 0.05, demonstrate significantly that the mean scores for lean manufacturing practices were different across the lean groups. Thus, the ANOVA results contribute to evaluating the validity of the cluster analysis. The lean barriers were analysed based on the status of lean implementation by the respondent companies, as indicated in Table 5. The three main barriers in non-lean companies were the lack of lean understanding, lack of senior management commitment and lack of middle management support. On the other hand, in companies which were in-transition towards lean systems, the primary barriers were lack of lean understanding and employees attitudes. For lean companies; lack of lean understanding was identified as the main barrier to implementing lean manufacturing systems successfully. Interestingly, all companies recognised that the main barrier was the lack of lean understanding. This is a significant barrier because lean manufacturing requires new knowledge and cultural change during the transition. Lean manufacturing principles and concepts should be applied comprehensively and holistically (Crute, et al., 2003; James, 2006). The ability of employees to respond and adapt to change is critical. Appropriate communication of and training in the concepts and basic principles of lean manufacturing systems would create greater levels of understanding, provide motivation for employees and encourage a spirit of innovation in the company's work culture (Puvanasvaran et al., 2009). Table 5 Lean Barriers Description Mean Non lean In-transition Lean Total Company culture 3.79 3.37 2.57 3.23 National culture 3.79 2.97 2.69 3.08 Attitude of shop floor employees 4.00 3.50 2.88 3.45 Attitude of middle management 3.86 3.37 2.75 3.32 Lack of senior management commitment 3.93 3.10 2.94 3.25 Nature of manufacturing facility 3.36 2.97 2.44 2.92 Investment cost 3.71 3.37 2.69 3.27 Inability to quantify benefits 3.36 3.37 2.44 3.12 Lack of communication 3.86 3.37 2.63 3.28 Lack of understanding of LM concepts 4.14 3.70 3.25 3.68

Qualitative study Analysis of the three companies selected for the qualitative study yielded valuable results. Table 6 presents a summary of the case companies characteristics.

Table 6 Summary of the case companies characteristics Company A Electronics 27 Foreign Large (>150 employees) 1996 (1st attempt), 2002 (2nd attempt) Company B Metal 11 Local Large (>150 employees) 2004 (1st attempt), 2007 (2nd attempt) Company C Metal 22 Local Large (>150 employees) 2009

Type of product Company age (years) Company ownership Company size Lean effort

The three companies, which manufacture different automotive components, are all categorised as part of the automotive industry. Companies A and C can be classified as old companies (established more than 20 years); in contrast, Company B had been incorporated for only 11 years. Company A is owned by a Japanese corporation headquartered in Japan, while both Company B and Company C are locally-owned. All three companies are considered large, each having more than 150 employees. In implementing lean manufacturing, Companies A and B had been unsuccessful in their first attempts. However, Company A, after making changes with respect to the implementation approach in their second lean attempt beginning in 2002, has been successful in implementing lean manufacturing. Company B reenergised its lean attempt in 2007 with the assistance of a government agency and has shown some progress in lean implementation. On the other hand, Company C had just started its journey to lean implementation. As a beginner and first-timer, Company C faced many problems and crises but was determined to transform itself into a lean company. Apparently, Company A had a much more positive experience with lean implementation than Company B and Company C. This raises key questions: Why was Company A successful in implementing lean? What were the barriers that Company B and Company C experienced in their attempts to implement lean manufacturing? In order to establish the factors that prevented a smooth transition to lean manufacturing systems, a cross-case analysis was conducted using data obtained from each of the case companies. Despite the intention of top management to implement lean manufacturing in their companies, the effort encountered difficulties in all three companies. These difficulties or barriers can be summarised as follows: difficulty in acquiring lean knowledge, lack of support from management, ineffective lean teams, inadequate training and communication, and employees attitudes.

Difficulty in acquiring lean knowledge Company A was successful in lean implementation because few barriers arose during implementation. The success of lean implementation in Company A began with the appointment of a new Managing Director (MD) transferred from the company's headquarters in Japan. He came with a reputation as a transformational manager who could create change within the company. The company also provided with direct advice, resources and training from its parent company. In both the first and second lean attempts, groups of employees were sent to Japan for training on lean, and an advisor from the parent company was sent to assist the company's transition to lean. This experience contrasts with that of locally-owned Companies B and C. In acquiring lean knowledge, these companies depended on government agencies, expensive external consultants and customers. Moreover, translating lean knowledge to non-Japanese companies required changes in organizational culture and mindset, a process beset by incomplete information, misunderstanding, and failure to consider differences in context To add to the problem, most of the Japanese experts hired by government agencies spoke only Japanese. This hindered the transfer of knowledge, as described by one of the respondents: Every fortnight, the Japanese expert came to this company to transfer his know-how knowledge on lean. His knowledge and expertise were indisputable, but the problem was the way he conveyed his knowledge. Sometimes, he even argued with his translator. It was a nightmare. Lack of management support The role of leadership and management is critical in the conversion to lean (Achanga, et al., 2006; Real, et al., 2007a; Sim & Rogers, 2009; Worley & Doolen, 2006). Even though a company's initiatives for lean manufacturing implementation should come from both senior and middle management, visible and active senior management is critical (Scherrer-Rathje et al., 2009; Worley & Doolen, 2006). Loss of interest, declining support, lack of focus, low commitment and lack of follow-through from top and middle management can lead to lean implementation failure. The following comments from respondents in Company B and Company C reflect these factors: (a) Lack of focus and planning from top management in Company B Our management is very open. First, we were involved in a TQM project and now lean. The problem occurs when there is conflict in term of approaches because each project has a different approach. At that time, we expected results from lean implementation too quickly. Thats what happened to us. We collapsed because the process stability was not there.

(b) Loss of interest and commitment from top management in Company B Especially, to be successful in or to be able to implement lean, the most important thing is top management. If the top management does not have a real understanding of lean manufacturing, then the down-line people will definitely face problems In the first stage, training was conducted by the agency for team members and department heads for two months. The training should also have involved top management, but everybody said they were too busy. (c) Lack of commitment and follow-through from middle management in Company C The top management was very supportive especially in financial and time. However, we have problems among middle management because we are on the same level. Ego and "I know what I am doing" dominate. But certain middle management, they do not follow [fundamental lean concepts such as Kaizen and 5S]. They feel that I am one or two levels higher in the company than you, so why should I follow? But if you dont lead by example, how can you expect them to follow? Ineffective Lean Teams For an effective transition to lean manufacturing, a strong team, with a strong team leader, should be developed to drive the change (Sohal & Egglestone, 1994). The main team's objectives are to inspire motivation for change and to ensure that the translation of the lean manufacturing change process can be understood by everyone in the organisation (Herron & Hicks, 2007). Company A was successful in its second lean attempt because its lean team met these objectives. In contrast, the lean teams in both Company B and Company C showed little progress due to having part time-team leaders. In both companies, the lean team leaders were department managers. The resulting problems were highlighted in the interviews: Many companies have a part-time lean team. Lots of companies fail because, first, they do not have top management that clearly understands lean. Secondly, they just simply select whoever is available but do not consider their capabilities or their responsibilities for other current work. So you must understand.you need a person who is there fulltime. We dont have a champion. But we have a committee (ad hoc). Previously, we had a person to be the leader; that was me. But currently, I am very busy. So, we asked our QA/QC Manager to be the leader. In fact, he too has other functional duties to handle and is unable to balance his day-to-day responsibilities with the lean project.

Inadequate Training and Communication Misunderstanding of lean manufacturing also contributes to the interruption of smooth lean implementation; this misunderstanding may result from inadequate training and communication within the company. Balle (2005) states that lean implementation involves three dimensions cognitive (requiring good understanding of lean thinking and methodology), effectiveness, and behavioural (derived through experience and shop floor practicality). As Company A reported, the top management should have a clear understanding of basic lean concepts, and the lean team should have deeper understanding of lean tools and techniques. In contrast, Company C did not focus on teaching lean principles to all employees, especially operators. Even top managers were reluctant to attend the basic lean training. There are many reasons for this situation, including the difficulty of forming an effective lean team and the lack of a strong lean champion to lead the training. Instead, the lean activities were put in place and driven by a consultant; thus, no fundamental mind-shift or commitment to lean occurred. In Company B, training was extensive and conducted intensively during the early stage of lean implementation, lean promotion. Then, after the lean promotion stage, the training focussed only on developing a lean trainer in each department. However, frequent meetings and discussions among the team members and operators supported the lean implementation process. As discussed by Fairris and Tohyama (2002), cooperation between workers and management is crucial to the success of lean manufacturing. This cooperation is most likely to occur when there is good communication and an atmosphere of trust between workers and management. Employees Attitudes The transition to lean requires changes in perspective and attitude (Dahlgaard & Dahlgaard-Park, 2006). In a lean system, employees are expected to demonstrate voluntary Kaizen initiatives, teamwork, and active problem-solving (Stewart, 2001). However, there were serious problems in changing the work culture of two case companies, Company B and Company C. Table 7 lists respondent comments that explain these problems in each case company.

Table 7 Comments on Employees Attitudes in the Case Companies Comments Some workers, especially at the supervisor level, felt satisfied with their achievement once a lean project was completed. Further improvements are rarely initiated unless they are ordered by the LPS (Lean Production System) department. Sometimes, supervisors are not able to manipulate or apply the knowledge gained from the project to implement other lean activities. In lean, the worker must not wait for a command, but here the management needs to give commands. The "Kaizen mind" should be a change that occurs throughout the company's culture, but this has not happened yet in this company. We encourage our workers to be involved in Kaizen activities. We have Small Group Activity (SGA) meetings every week, but, most of the time; we need to force them, as the motivation for improvement is not there. We used to have Kaizen boxes on the production floor, but, instead of suggestions, we got hate mail. As shown in Table 7, Company A had managed to ensure that lean culture and its way of thinking were embedded in the company. At this stage, the company's challenges lay in attaining sustainability in lean. However, Company B and C were still struggling to develop their workers attitudes toward work. The unique challenge of lean manufacturing, compared to other management practices, is that a lean system requires its workers to work smarter, not harder (Stewart, 1998). The key to long-term lean sustainability is workers who support the development of a lean culture (Hines et al., 2004; Jorgensen et al., 2007).

Company A

Company B

Company C

CONCLUSION Implementing a lean manufacturing system is not an easy task. For any change in an organisation to take hold and succeed, the barriers and forces of resistance need to be identified and understood. Failure to assess organisational and individual readiness for change may lead management to waste significant time and energy. Given the observations and results of this study, it appears that barriers can delay or weaken the lean implementation process. The barriers identified in the case companies are difficulty in acquiring lean knowledge, lack of support from management, ineffective lean teams, inadequate training and communication, and employees attitudes. Because lean implementation is a systemic effort; therefore, it is important to identify and understand the barriers to smooth transition. Not every company will be successful in its first attempt to implement lean, as evidenced by the experiences of Companies A and B. However, the most critical factors for success are support from top and middle management, a strong lean team and effective

communication. The change to a lean manufacturing system requires attention to the impact on both processes and people. By understanding the barriers to the lean implementation process in Companies A, B and C, practitioners can take one step closer to the successful application of lean.

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