Factors Impacting Implementation of Lean in Engineering
Factors impacting implementation of Lean in design engineeringBack in the late 1980s, companies discovered the advantage of implementing Lean in their manufacturing operations. Since then, Lean has become the standard and is today a prerequisite for any manufacturing company to operate in highly competitive industries. Nowadays, companies look beyond the factory floor searching for ways to take the Lean concept to other functional areas such as Design Engineering (DE). However, this endeavor is not straightforward since the understanding of Lean and its underlying factors is scarce, especially regarding DE—may be with the exception of Set-Based Concurrent Engineering (SBCE). Although SBCE makes up a logical reasoning for designing new products, its effectiveness in industrial practice is still unproven.As a starting point for our research, we recognize SBCE as a valuable theory, yet incomplete as a practical methodology for industrial application. We hypothesize that this gap can be bridged by increasing the understanding of Lean and its underlying factors in the context of DE. We presume that a more complete understanding of the concept should include additional principles complementing the ones associated with SBCE. The searched outcome is identifying operational factors promoting and constraining the implementation of Lean DE. Thus, the overall aim is to increase the understanding of the concept, its implementation, and industrial practices, towards a more contextual and practical use of the Lean. We conduct a literature review and identify eight essential principles for Lean DE. This framework is used as a guide for conducting semi-structured interviews in industrial companies. The interviews are used to assess overall lean maturity level in the different companies and tied to characteristics of the individual company. In addition, the interview data are analyzed to identify a set of fifteen facilitating and constraining factors, internal and external ones, for the implementation of Lean in DE. The factors are discussed and illustrated with practical examples from the context of the individual companies. The identified organizational factors are related to the Lean DE principles relative to their perceived impact. The paper discusses the results in terms of a correlation matrix showing both positive and negative correlations between organizational factors and Lean DE principles. It is concluded that the results from this research can be used as basis to establish improved operational strategies for successful implementation of Lean in DE teams.