Lean Supply Chain Management: a lean approach applied to distribution – a literature review of the concepts, challenges and trends

Silvio Luiz Alvim, Ottomar Galizio Oliveira


Developed between 1948 and 1975, the Toyota Production System (TPS) has in its essence increasing profitability through the elimination of losses. The TPS continued to evolve, becoming better known as just-in-time (JIT) production and, in the sequence, as lean production or lean thinking. In this line, the lean philosophy and its concepts were extended to manufacturing industries over the years. However, up to the present, the challenge for many companies lies in how to reduce the gap in the application of these concepts to their distribution operations process. The distribution operation is responsible for the success of customer services and, at the same time, it works under intense pressure to reduce costs and inventory, keeping the high service level. The purpose of this paper is to present a literature review about distribution related to the lean concept, and it aims to provide an overview of recent ideas, challenges, and trends to implement the lean distribution. The research is supported by Scopus database articles published in English; it has been limited to a period, from 2007 to 2017. As a summary conclusion, it is imperative that the implementation of a lean distribution program considers the supply chain management (SCM) as a system and does not apply the lean practices to isolated parts of the chain.


Lean distribution; Lean logistics; Lean manufacturing; Lean supply chain; Supply chain management

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