Longitudinal study of lean tools in Spanish manufacturing firms

Purpose Lean management is a suitable methodology for companies that want to improve their productive performance and competitiveness. This study aims to research levels of implementation and internalisation of Lean production tools in Spanish manufacturing companies, and explores differences in behaviour between SMEs and large companies based on data gathered over three time periods. The correlation between Lean adoption and company performance is also analysed. Design/methodology/approach Company survey data for the years 2012, 2015 and 2018 collected from 354 respondents were used to conduct a longitudinal study on the level of lean tool adoption and internalisation in manufacturing companies. Findings Over the years, the use of Lean tools has increased, whereas levels of internalisation have remained stable. Lean tool use in SMEs and large companies show significant differences in 2012 and 2015, but this is no longer the case 2018. Results also show that higher Lean tool use helps increase return on sales (ROS), and higher levels of internalisation of tools helps reduce the number of products rejected. Originality/value To date, there are no known studies on the use and internalisation of Lean tools or their correlations with business performance indicators in Spanish manufacturing companies ​
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