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Some of the results obtained in this
paper are similar to those obtained by other researchers elsewhere 12, 31, 33,
and 35. However, a number of unique findings and their implications are
summarized in this section.

While findings in most research
papers, for example 31, 33, 35, indicate a significant level of lean
awareness elsewhere, the findings of this paper indicate a relatively low level
of lean awareness in the companies that participated in this research. Although
the industries considered in 31, 33, 35 are different a lot is left to be
desired, regarding lean and lean implementations, in the various Saudi industries.
Even though the industries in 31, 33, 35 were discussed in different
settings, the significance of the findings of this paper lies in the
differences in the general awareness of lean manufacturing principles.

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Since the true essence of lean is
not known and not well understood in most of the Saudi industry in, the level
of awareness observed in this study for industries in Saudi Arabia (i.e., 52 %)
does directly come from core lean concept but is a result of the strong
presence of ISO certifications that have a number of commonalities with lean
manufacturing principles. This comes from the strong presence of ISO
certifications which have commonalities with lean. It can therefore be inferred
that lean concepts in Saudi industries are embedded in other scientific
management systems, and therefore, do not stand up as formidable fundamental
concepts and principles upon which continuous improvement is built. As
discussed in 37, this situation can be a stumbling block to lean
implementation since there is a risk of considering lean as just another scientific
management tool. Another barrier related to this could be passive resistance to
lean changes if lean is regarded as “just another concept.” Thus, failure to
delineate lean from other scientific management systems may result in failure
to recognize benefits of lean beyond ISO certifications. While it is important
to delineate lean from other tools/concepts/techniques, it is equally important
to have a total scope of lean as well as the true perspective of lean implementations.
This study has shown that Saudi industries have a limited knowledge on the total
scope of lean since some critical elements of lean, such as “long-term
cost-cutting strategies,” received very low scores in the surveys. Development
of long-term cost-cutting strategies is key to lean implementations, and the
benefits thereof, since it demonstrates the understanding that lean
implementation is continuous and not a one-off event. If leaders of lean implementation
programs do not understand that the benefits of lean are realized after a long
period of time, then lean implementation can fail and benefits associated with
lean will not be realized.

Unlike other studies elsewhere,
budget issues for lean implementations will, in general, not be an issue in
Saudia industries as illustrated by the findings of this paper. In addition,
Saudia industries have already demonstrated commitment traits to various ISO
certifications. Therefore, management support and commitment demonstrated
during the process of ISO certifications can be transferred to the needs for
lean implementation. Most of the large Saudi companies have been committed to
the implement various ISO certifications. Such commitment includes extensive
education and training of employees at their various levels. However, a right
balance between training and education on one hand and actual implementation on
the other must be achieved since tilting to either side may hinder or delay the
success of lean implementations.

The findings of this paper and
the discussion of results and their implications reveal a number of important
issues that must be observed when implementing lean in regions where lean has
not been adopted as a fundamental approach to continuous process improvements
coupled with significant reductions of lean wastes. In order to advance lean
manufacturing practices, it is critical to determine the level of lean
awareness. The level of lean awareness varies from industrial sector to another
and it also varies from one company to another. Thus, the level of lean
awareness must be measured first before prospects for lean and lean
implementations are developed. Results of lean awareness measurements would
then provide relevant information that can be used to prepare lean recipients for
lean implementation. Albeit, it is equally important to understand the total
scope of lean waste with respect to the type and nature of operations as well
as the culture of a company or the culture of the industrial sector earmarked
for lean implementation.

Additionally, the true essence of
lean and lean perceptions must be analyzed and given due recognition in order to
avoid failure. Furthermore, understanding the business environment of
candidates for lean implementations goes a long way in determining the various
dynamics of lean implementations. For example, in cases where there are
intricate synergies among a number of companies, as is the case in

Saudi Arabia, such synergistic
relationships offer an already-in place structure that can be used to
systematically deploy lean concepts in such a way that these concepts naturally
cascade to interlinked companies upstream or downstream of the larger dominating
companies. Understanding the dynamics of such synergies can reveal information
that can be used in developing and deploying strategies for lean
implementations and lean transformations.

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