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Journal article

A new set of principles for pursuing the lean ideal in engineer-to-order manufacturers

Lean thinking Case study Lean principles Project delivery Engineering

For many years, lean production has been successfully applied in large companies producing high volumes of standardized products. However, companies which operate in dissimilar environments have yet to expose a suitable model for pursuing the lean ideal, adapted and fine-tuned to the diverse characteristics demonstrated by producers of, for example, highly customized, engineer-to-order products. The aim of this paper is to examine the evolution of lean principles with the primary goal of converging towards a new set of principles that are more clearly aligned for the deployment of lean in engineer-to-order manufacturers. We take insight in lean production, lean project management, and lean product development in order to develop a set of principles which we suggest is more clearly suited for the deployment of lean thinking in engineer-to- order manufacturers. Firstly, we use literature review in order to examine the most prevalent lean principles in the extant literature, and we apply qualitative content analysis in order to propose a new set of principles. We then adopt a multiple-case study approach in order to validate the derivation of the new principles in the context of two, distinct engineer-to-order environments. Our findings highlight a transition from the traditional lean production model to a more contemporary, innovative approach for pursuing the lean ideal in the context of ETO manufacturers.

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