8.17.2006

The Low Rates of Lean Implementation

Even though lean concepts have been around for decades, why is it still true that so few American companies are embracing them? I don't know, but I certainly find the evidence discouraging.


            According to a recent survey by the Aberdeen Group, less than a third of manufacturers have been involved with lean for four years or more. (The actual numbers are 31 percent for discrete manufacturers and 28 percent for process industries.)


            The totals jump to 71 percent and 59 percent, respectively, when the category is broadened to one year or more.


            Not surprisingly, there are significant differences between industries. More than half of aerospace/defense companies say they have been involved in lean for four years or more, while the comparable figure for the automotive industry is 48 percent. Computer companies are also above average.

            The lowest rates of adoption are in food and beverage, and consumer durables. Consumer packaged goods, metals, and industrial equipment are slightly better.


            In presenting the results during a recent Industry Week Webinar, Jane Biddle, VP of Global Manufacturing Research at Aberdeen also set forth a familiar list of characteristics of the best in class:



  • Mastered the basic tenants of lean
  • Dedicated to continuous improvement
  • Top management is committed
  • Embracing a ‘culture of lean’

            So what else is new?


            We’ve heard it all before, but the majority of companies still aren’t hearing it.


            Don’t get me wrong; I believe that support for lean is spreading in the business world, and not just in manufacturing. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.


 

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