• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 10, No 5 (2019)

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

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

Title: Literature Review of Lean Manufacturing in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
Laila Driouach, Khalid Zarbane, Zitouni Beidouri

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

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.


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