Enablers and constraints in implementing lean manufacturing: evidence from brazilian SMEs

Arcione Ferreira Viagi, Roberto Panizzolo, Stefano Biazzo


Lean Manufacturing has revolutionized the global manufacturing environment at an unprecedented rate. In scholarly and managerial literature, many works have reported that Lean Manufacturing is a very efficient approach and a straightforward way towards process improvements, in terms of productivity and value adding activities ratio. However, many studies on Lean Manufacturing have highlighted many problems in its implementation. The analysis carried out within the research project is aimed to the factors enabling or constraining the Lean Transformation of a firm’s production system, along with the most relevant tools or practices to be applied. The research methodology used is the so-called “Normative Delphi” with a panel formed by 32 experts coming from 16 Brazilian SMEs. Our results are partially consistent with what has already been discussed in the literature and we found that the most relevant tools/practices are: value stream mapping, 5S methodology, and Kaizen (Gemba walks); the top three enabling factors are: knowledge and sponsorship of senior management, focus on continuous improvement, and employee development fostered by the company; finally, the main critical constraints are: little support from the top management, resistance to change by middle management, and poor or non-qualified Lean training activities.


Lean Manufacturing, Implementation, Change Management, SMEs, Delphi

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