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Examination of the flexibility paradox in a Lean system
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation. Scania CV AB, Sweden. (Innofacture)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1518-7958
Volvo Construction Equipment, Eskilstuna, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4059-2664
Volvo Construction Equipment, Eskilstuna, Sweden.
2014 (English)In: , 2014Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper explores if Lean is to be considered flexible or not. A multiple case study in the automotive industry is conducted to find the dependencies between Lean and flexibility. Since many definitions of flexibility and Lean exists, a pragmatic approach is sought where each cases own definition of Lean is used to analyze if the factors that enable flexibility are to be considered Lean or not. The context of this paper is volume and product flexibility.

Lean and flexibility are found to be independent of each other in a direct sense. However, indirectly it is found that flexibility in a Lean context is achieved through decisions made when finding solution during problem solving. Also, the level of flexibility can also be seen as a decision. Therefore Lean in itself cannot be regarded as either flexible nor inflexible but flexibility can be achieved when choosing solutions to particular problems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Lean, Assembly systems, Flexibility, Variation, Efficiency, Mixed model lines
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Industrial Economics and Organisations
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-27896OAI: diva2:807859
58th EOQ conference, 10-13 June, 2014, Gothenburg, Sweden
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2015-04-24 Created: 2015-04-24 Last updated: 2015-10-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Towards a Lean Integration of Lean
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards a Lean Integration of Lean
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Integrating Lean in a process has become increasingly popular over the last decades. Lean as a concept has spread through industry into other sectors such as service, healthcare, and administration. The overwhelming experience from this spread is that Lean is difficult to integrate successfully. It takes a long time and requires large resources in the integration,

as it permeates all aspects of a process. Lean is a system depending on both tools and methods as well as human effort and behavior. There is therefore a need to understand the integration process itself. As many companies have worked with the integration of Lean, there should be a great deal of accumulated knowledge.

The overall intent of this research is therefore to examine how a current state of a Lean integration can be established, that takes into account the dualism of Lean regarding the technical components of Lean, as well as the humanistic components of Lean. Both issues must be addressed if the integration process of Lean is to be efficient. 

Through a literature review, eight views of Lean are established. Taking into consideration historical, foundational, and evolutionary tools and methods, systems, philosophical, cultural, and management views, a comprehensive model of Lean at a group level in a process is proposed. Through two multiple-case studies, the experiences of actual Lean integrations are compared with Lean theory to establish a current state of a Lean integration. There were large similarities in the experiences but also differences due to context and the complexity of Lean as a system. The current state is described in:

  • 9 instances of strongly positive findings. They are often simple tools and methods.
  • 11 instances of weakly positive findings. They are often of a system nature in the dependencies between the Lean methods.
  • 3 instances with vague findings. Seems to be due to lack of focus on the intent of integrating Lean.
  • 3 instances of mixed findings. Can often be connected to personal commitment and the creation of efficient islands.
  • 3 instances of conflicting findings. Seem to be connected to contextual factors.
  • 3 instances of insufficient data. The indications are too few to draw any conclusions. 

Accurately establishing the current state of the Lean integration process is seen as a necessary first step of a Lean integration of Lean.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Eskilstuna: Mälardalen University, 2015. 155 p.
Mälardalen University Press Licentiate Theses, ISSN 1651-9256 ; 205
Lean Integration Flexibility Management
National Category
Work Sciences
Research subject
Working Life Studies
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-27897 (URN)978-91-7485-208-0 (ISBN)
2015-06-09, Filen, Mälardalens högskola, Eskilstuna, 10:00 (Swedish)
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2015-04-27 Created: 2015-04-24 Last updated: 2015-05-18Bibliographically approved

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