• Vol 10, No 5 (2019)
  • Industrial Engineering

Literature Review of Lean Manufacturing in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Laila Driouach, Khalid Zarbane, Zitouni Beidouri

Corresponding email: laila.driouach@gmail.com

Cite this article as:
Driouach, L., Zarbane, K., Beidouri, Z., 2019. Literature Review of Lean Manufacturing in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. International Journal of Technology. Volume 10(5), pp. 930-941
Laila Driouach Laboratory of Mechanics, Production and Industrial Engineering, Hassan II University,20999 , Casablanca, Morocco
Khalid Zarbane Laboratory of Mechanics, Production and Industrial Engineering, Hassan II University, 20999 , Casablanca, Morocco
Zitouni Beidouri Laboratory of Mechanics, Production and Industrial Engineering, Hassan II University,20999 , Casablanca, Morocco
Email to Corresponding Author


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent an important component of the economy in both developed and developing countries. Nowadays, the competitive industrial environment is encouraging these companies to redesign their manufacturing practices. Lean manufacturing (LM) has been widely implemented in several industries and has been shown to have had a positive impact on the performance and development of companies. This review aims to examine this impact on the performance of manufacturing companies, to emphasize the recent progress of LM amongst SMEs worldwide, and to show that most successful LM initiatives are those implemented in SMEs and large companies. However, very small businesses (VSBs) are struggling to introduce LM into their management systems. A new approach has been developed to establish a new lean implementation framework that could be adapted to the specific context of VSBs.

Benefits; Lean implementation; Lean manufacturing; SMEs; Very small businesses


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a major role in international economies and represent a vital component of economic growth in emerging ones. Therefore, SMEs are considered as one of the main contributors to GDP and employment worldwide (Saleh & Ndubisi, 2006).

In Europe, SMEs employ 93 million people and generate 57% of the added value. Most SMEs (93%) are micro businessed employing fewer than ten employees (Muller et al., 2017). In Morocco, according to Moroccan Confederation of SME statistics, SMEs represent 95% of the the economic fabric. Indeed, they are considered to be a vital source of wealth and job creation, constituting 40% of production and 31% of exports (CDVM, 2011). However, SMEs are presently struggling to maintain their competitiveness due to the high competition in the economic context. Therefore, they are concentrating on focusing their efforts on reducing costs and producing more customized products, in smaller batch sizes and with a short lead time. LM practices and techniques could help improve the performance of manufacturing companies, as well as reducing their costs.

LM is a set of techniques that aims to increase the creation of value and reduce all types of waste.  The process was developed by Taiichi Ohno during the creation of the Toyota production system (TPS) in the 1950s (Rauch et al., 2017)Many companies in different fields all over the world have launched initiatives and projects to introduce Lean practices (Narayanamurthy et al., 2018; Bajjou & Chafi, 2018a; Bajjou & Chafi, 2018b). Typical lean methods have been applied for many years in order to structure lean production process in certain multinational companies; initially specialized ones in the automotive industry, but later ones in other industrial sectors, including smaller companies (Rauch et al., 2017).

According to previous research based on different contexts, SMEs have also successfully introduced Lean practices in Europe (Ulewicz & Kuc?ba, 2016; Antosz & Stadnicka, 2017); in Malaysia (Rose et al., 2017); Brazil (Ferreira et al., 2016); India (Verma & Sharma, 2017; Gandhi et al., 2018); Morocco (Fakkous et al., 2015; Belhadi at al., 2016;  Bajjou & Chafi, 2018c),  and Italy (Matt & Rauch, 2013; Rauch et al., 2017), amongs to the countries.

This review paper aims to highlight the positive impact of Lean on company performance, as reflected in operational, strategic, administrative and human aspects. The paper also indicates that LM has proved its efficiency in performance improvement in large companies, as well as SMEs. In order to develop a new Lean strategy which could be suitable for very small businesses (VSBs), we suggest an approach to the design of a new framework for Lean implementation adapted to small company characteristics.



The authors acknowledge the Laboratory of Mechanics, Production and Industrial Engineering, Higher National School of Electricity and Mechanics Casablanca-Morocco, for the provision of research facilities. The authors would also like to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions.


Albliwi, S., Antony, J., Abdul Halim Lim, S., van der Wiele, T., 2014. Critical Failure Factors of Lean Six Sigma: A Systematic Literature Review. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Volume 31(9), pp. 1012–1030

AlManei, M., Salonitis, K., Xu, Y., 2017. Lean Implementation Frameworks: The Challenges for SMEs. Procedia CIRP, Volume 63, pp. 750–755

Antosz, K., Stadnicka, D., 2017. Lean Philosophy Implementation in SMEs – Study Results. Procedia Engineering, Volume 182, pp. 25–32

Anvari, A., Zulkifli, N., Yusuff, R.M., Hojjati, S.M.H., Seyed, M., Ismail, Y., 2011. A Proposed Dynamic Model for a Lean Roadmap. African Journal of Business Management, Volume 5(16), pp. 6727–6737

Baglin, G., Capraro, M., 1999. L'Entreprise Lean Production ou la PME compétitive par l'action collective (The Lean Production Company or the Competitive SME through Collective Action). Presses Universitaires de Lyon

Bajjou, M.S., Chafi, A., 2018a. Towards Implementing Lean Construction in the Moroccan Construction Industry: Survey Study. In: Proceedings of the 2018 International Conference on Optimization and Applications, ICOA 2018. IEEE

Bajjou, M.S., Chafi, A., 2018b. Lean Construction Implementation in the Moroccan Construction Industry: Awareness, Benefits and Barrier.  Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, Volume 16(4), pp. 533–556

Bajjou, M.S., Chafi, A., 2018c. Barriers of Lean Construction Implementation in the Moroccan Construction Industry. AIP Conference Proceedings, Volume 1952(1), p. 020056. AIP Publishing

Bajjou, M.S., Chafi, A., 2018d. Empirical Study of Schedule Delay in Moroccan Construction Projects.  International Journal of  Construction Management, Volume 0(0), pp. 1-8

Bajjou, M.S., Chafi, A., Ennadi, A. 2019. Development of a Conceptual Framework of Lean Construction Principles: An Input-Output Model. Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Systems, Volume 18(1), pp. 1–34

Bakås, O., Govaert, T., Van Landeghem, H., 2011. Challenges and Success Factors for Implementation of Lean Manufacturing in European SMES In: 13th International conference on the modern information technology in the innovation processes of the industrial enterprise (MITIP 2011) Volume 1

Beck, K., 1999. Extreme Programming Explained: Embracechange. Addison-wesley Professional

Belhadi, A., Touriki, F.E., Fezazi, S.E., 2016. A Framework for Effective Implementation of Lean Production in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, Volume 9(3), pp. 786810

CDVM (Conseil déontologique des valeursmobilières), 2011. Financement des PME au Maroc.

Demeter, K., Matyusz, Z., 2011. The Impact of Lean Practices on Inventory Turnover. International Journal of Production Economics,Volume 133(1), pp. 154–163

Dora, M., Van Goubergen, D., Kumar, M., Molnar, A., Gellynck, X., 2014. Application of Lean Practices in Small and Medium-sized Food Enterprises. British Food Journal, Volume 116(1), pp. 125–141

Doolen, T.L., Hacker, M.E., 2005. A Review of Lean Assessment in Organizations: An Exploratory Study of Lean Practices by Electronics Manufacturers. Journal of Manufacturing Systems, Volume 24(1), pp. 55–67

Drew, J., McCallum, B., Roggenhofer, S., de Angéli, G., 2004. Objectif Lean: Réussir l’entreprise au plus juste: enjeux techniques et culturels (Lean Objective: To Make the Company as Successful as Possible: Technical and Cultural Issues). Broché

Fakkous, M., Ennadi, A., Chafi, A., 2015. Etude de niveau de maturité Lean de la PME marocaine "Lean maturity study of the Moroccan SME". In: Conference Proceeding

Ferreira, W.P., Silva, A.M., Zampini, E.F., Pire, C.O., 2016. Lean Manufacturing Micro and Small Enterprises (MSE): A Study in the Bakery Segment. In: XXXVI National Meeting Of Production Engineering Contributions of Production Engineering for Best Management and Modernization Practices in Brazil

Gandhi, N.S., Thanki, S.J., Thakkar, J.J., 2018. Ranking of Drivers for Integrated Lean-green Manufacturing for Indian Manufacturing SMEs. Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 171, pp. 675–689

Garre, P., Nikhil Bharadwaj, V.V.S., Shiva Shashank, P., Harish, M., Sai Dheeraj, M., 2017. Applying Lean in Aerospace Manufacturing. Materials Today Proceedings, Volume 4(8), pp. 8439–8446

Hilbert, H., 1998. Effective Coordination of Technical and Social Component during the Design and Launch of a New Lean Manufacturing Work System. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Kilpatrick, J., 2003. Lean Principles. Utah Manufacturing. Extention, Partnership, pp. 1–5

Kowalski, J.S, 1996. An Evaluation of the Design of Manufacturing Measurable for the Ford Production. Master thesis, MIT Camb

Liker, J., 2004. The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer. Mc Graw-Hill Education

Lyonnet, B., 2010. Amélioration de la performance industrielle: vers un système de production Lean adapté auxentreprises du pole de compétitivité Arve Industrie Haute-Savoie Mont-Blanc (Improvement of Industrial Performance: Towards a Lean Production System Adapted to the Companies of the Arve Industries Haute-Savoie Mont-Blanc Competitiveness Cluster). Université de Savoie

Mamat, R., Md Deros, B., Ab Rahman, M.N., Khalil Omar, M., Abdullah, S., 2015. Soft Lean Practices for Successful Production System Implementation in Malaysia Automotive SMEs: A Proposed Framework. Jurnal Teknologi, Volume 77(27), pp. 141150

Matt, D.T., Rauch, E., 2013. Implementation of Lean Production in Small Sized Enterprises. Procedia CIRP, Volume12, pp. 420–425

Muller, P., Julius, J., Herr, D., Koch, L., Peycheva, V., McKiernan, S., 2017. Annual Report on European SMEs 2016/2017. European Commission

Narayanamurthy, G., Gurumurthy, A., Subramanian, N., Moser, R., 2018. Assessing the Readiness to Implement Lean in Healthcare Institutions – A Case Study. International Journal of Production Economics,Volume 197, pp. 123–142

Prakash, N., Prasad, C., 2014. Lean Practices in Small and Medium Manufacturing Enterprises–A Structured Literature Review. Journal of  Basic and Applied Engineering Research, Volume 1(4), pp. 78–84

Rauch, E., Dallasega, P., Matt, D.T., 2017. Critical Factors for Introducing Lean Product Development to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Italy. Procedia CIRP, Volume 60, pp. 362–367

Rose, Ab Rashid, M.F.F., Mohamed, N.N., Ahmad, H., 2017. Similarities of Lean Manufacturing Approaches Implementation in SMEs Towards the Success: Case Study in the Automotive Component Industry. In: MATEC Web of Conferences. EDP Sciences, Volume 87, pp. 02024

Rymaszewska, A,D., 2014. The Challenges of Lean Manufacturing Implementation in SMEs. Benchmarking: An International Journal, Volume 21, pp. 987–1002

Saleh, A.S., Ndubisi, N.O., 2006. SME Development in Malaysia: Domestic and Global Challenges. University of Wollongong

Salonitis, K., Tsinopoulos, C., 2016. Drivers and Barriers of Lean Implementation in the Greek Manufacturing Sector. Procedia CIRP, Volume 57, pp. 189–194

Saurin, T.A., Ferreira, C.F., 2009. The Impacts of Lean Production on Working Conditions: A Case Study of a Harvester Assembly Line in Brazil. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Volume 39(2), pp. 403–412

Treville, S., Antonakis, J., 2006. Could Lean Production Job Design Be Intrinsically Motivating? Contextual, Configurational, and Levels-of-Analysis Issues. Journal of Operations Management, Volume 24(2), pp. 99– 123

Ulewicz, R., Kuc?ba, R., 2016. Identification of Problems of Implementation of Lean Concept in the SME Sector. Ekon. Zarzadzanie, Volume 8(1), pp. 1925

Verma, N., Sharma, V., 2017. Sustainable Competitive Advantage by Implementing Lean Manufacturing “A Case Study for Indian SMEs”. Materials Today: Proceedings, Volume 4(8), pp. 9210–9217

Womack J., Jones D., 2005. Systéme Lean: Penser l’entreprise au plus juste (System Lean: Thinking the Company at the Fairest), 2ème édition. ed. Village Mondial, Paris

Womack, J. P., Jones, D.T., Roos, D., 1990. The Machine  that  Changed  the World. Simon and Schuster

Zhou, B., 2016. Lean Principles, Practices, and Impacts: A Study on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).  Annals of Operations Research, Volume 241(1-2), pp. 457–474