Critical Factors for Introducing Lean Product Development to Small and Medium sized Enterprises in Italy
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Small and medium sized enterprises are the backbone of many economies. Especially in Italy SME's play a major role in the economic system. In the last years many lean methods and approaches were introduced successfully also in small and medium sized enterprises. After a successful introduction in manufacturing the lean approach swapped also on other indirect areas such as engineering and product development. Actually in research we can find only few research on the application of Lean in the R&D departments of SME's. The novelty of this paper is to provide a survey based evaluation of applicability, benefits as well as critical factors of Lean in SME product development. In the survey 54 Italian SME's were asked for their opinion. Further, respondents gave a statement on the introduction of emerging Industry 4.0 techniques in product development and how they can influence the effect of Lean in product development. The main results are that numerous Lean methods can be introduced very quickly promising high potential for improvements and that Lean methods combined with Industry 4.0 technologies act like a booster for efficiency optimization in product development.
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