Implementation of Lean Production in small sized enterprises
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The introduction and implementation of Lean Production Principles over the last twenty years has had a notable impact on many manufacturing enterprises. The practice shows that lean production methods and instruments are not equally applicable to large and small companies. After the implementation in large enterprises belonging to the automotive sector the concept of lean thinking was introduced successfully in medium sized enterprises. Small enterprises have been ignored for a long time and special investigations about this topic are rarely. Considering statistical data and analysis about the economic importance of small enterprises we can see, that they are numerous and create a notable part of the total value added in the non-financial business economy. This paper analysis in a first step the role and potential of small enterprises – especially in Italy – and shows then a preliminary study of the suitability of existing lean methods for the application in this type of organization. The research was combined with an industrial case study in a small enterprise to analyse the difficulties in the implementation stage and to identify the critical success factors. The results of this preliminary study should illustrate the existing hidden potential in small enterprises as well as a selection of suitable methods for productivity improvements. This research will be the base for a further and more detailed research project.