Sample Logistics Paper on Lean implementation and the concepts of Total Quality Management (TQM), Just in Time (JIT) and Total Productive Maintenance TPM production concepts

Lean implementation and the concepts of Total Quality Management (TQM), Just in Time (JIT) and Total Productive Maintenance TPM production concepts


The business world is drastically changing. Today, companies face the challenge of growing competition, rising customer expectations and expanding markets. These factors increase the pressure on companies to lower the cost of supply, expand production, reduce inventories and provide better customer service. As the business environment changes, organizations must also make changes in the way they conduct business to remain competitive (Kovacheva 2009, 4). This article focuses on a systematic analysis that examines how the implementation of Lean Operations in Logistics Management could bring a positive effect to an organization and contribute to its growth. It begins by clarifying the concept of Lean; discussion by various scholars to give a better understanding of Lean as a way of management and identifies primary characteristics of the term. This is then being followed by a section which observes how implementation of Lean Operations in logistics management is related to TQM, JIT and TPM.

Lean Meaning, Implementation and Applications

The definition of lean production has a divergent of approaches based on the context of different authors and this divergence can cause some confusion on a theoretical level. Since from a practical point of view, the aim of many organizations is to implement the concept because of its benefits in value creation as posited by Pettersen (2009), it is essential for these organizations to acknowledge the different lean approaches, make dynamic choices and then adapt the concept to suit their unique needs. Lean production is defined as an approach towards implementing firm processes to have value added to customers and at the same time minimize wastage of resources.

Therefore, lean production is based on the process of increasing efficiency, decreasing waste, and using empirical methods to decide what matters, rather than uncritically accepting pre-existing ideas (Womack and Jones, 2003). According to the Lean Enterprise Institute (2012), the principal action in Lean implementation is the focus on value so that the value can be continuously increased with time. Hofer (2012, 242) describes Lean production as a strategy and philosophy that promotes the use of various value addition practices such as Total Quality Management (TQM) as well as Just-in-Time production to minimize waste and promote performance while Josteen, Bongers and Jassen (2009, 346) argue that Lean implementation is generally a practice of devising value adding processes into logistics and is therefore expected to result to enhanced operational outcomes such as lower inventories, improved customer service and increased supply, which should, in turn, improve performance. This is summed up in the illustration below:

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With lean thinking, it is possible to work Just in time, produce logistic process that can be described with Total quality management features and reduce wastes in production through Total productivity management systems. The three concepts are discussed below:


Total Productivity Management

One of the lean approaches and intends is to have a productivity process that is free from wastes and flaws and this is managed through TPM systems. TPM focuses on production processes to have faster, risk free supply management. In such systems, lean practices aim at the reduction of variability at every chance including demand, manufacturing and supplier, which is best described as lean sigma-six approach (Arnheiter and Maleyeff, 2005). For TPM systems, manufacturing variability is the focus. This does not only include variation of product quality characteristics such as length, width and height; but also variations in task times such as operator skill levels and absenteeism so that efficiency is achieved. Lean operations therefore attempt to reduce task time variation by creating standardized work procedures using the TPM system (Anheteir and Maleyeff 2005, 6). To manage the supplier variability such as the uncertainties in delivery times, TPM works also through encouraging partnerships and other types of supplier-producer cooperation.

All the same, TPM is about value creation, minimization of wasteful processes, improvements in lead-time, and perfection of firm performance during production processes. In general, production that realizes the importance of value and minimization of wastes is described as the lean thinking, which according to Näslund (2008), changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments, to optimizing the flow of products and services through the entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets and departments to customers. Manufacturers applying TPM and lean thinking strategies have no regrets.

In general, industrially, TPM has been very vital in the auto industry. According to Morgan (2014), the Japanese automobile manufacturer, Toyota, introduced the innovative lean production system in the competitive market during the year 1953, which drove the company to new heights. The pioneer Toyota’s innovative idea was to understand the demand of the customers, minimize the inventories at assemblers, dealerships and suppliers instead of producing products in mass quantities and pushing them to the customers through dealers. This innovation led to larger responsibility for quality, design and delivery of the product than the mass production method. It also had an advantage of cost minimization.


Just-In-Time Lean Methodology

Just in time or JIT is a concept that means that process is automated where implementation can be monitored and results can be realized as they occur in real time. It is therefore not debatable that Lean operations will often reduce lead-time so dramatically (Li, Nathan and Rao 2006). Reducing lead times improves replenishment times even when make to stock approaches are required thereby lowering inventories throughout supply networks and making the supply chain more responsive to demand uncertainties. For an organization to enjoy the benefits aforementioned, it needs to implement Lean meticulously and remove wastes from production processes. The only way to demonstrate the effect of the changes achieved and therefore the movement toward the goal is to estimate the size of these wastes.

Strategically, to remove wastes from the system engineering processes, Lean introduces the flow-based approach of just in time (Jit). This is achieved by removing any variations that are caused by work scheduling hence the provision of target and priorities for implementation using different techniques (Hanna, 2007). The Just-in-time flow-approach to engineering exposes problems related to in buffer stocks that become visible (Sohal, Ramsay and Samson, 1993). This opens way to explicitly deal with the challenges by forcing a smooth flow of the value-adding steps only. According to Schonberger (2007), manufacturing is paramount in Malaysia, as it contributes about 31.4% of gross domestic product as well as accounting for about 80.5% of the total merchandise export. This industry benefited a lot from Malaysian adoption of Lean thinking based on JIT methodology in supply chains processes for raw materials hence increase exports from the sector.

Total Quality Management

Lean implementation is one approach that works in tandem with total quality management. TQM is defined as the process of ensuring a risk free implementation through monitoring and evaluation. TQM provides five principles of lean implementation whose application needs to be exercised at all organizational levels and requires comprehensive transformation of the whole business system. Below is a TQM illustration:


(Source: Josteen, Bongers, Jassen 2009, 346)

To ensure lean TQM, implementing firms start by defining the customer’s value.  If customer value is not specified correctly, it could result in wrong delivery of wrong product or services thereby making the organization suffer great waste (Bhasin and Burcher 2006, 56). The entire value stream is then identified to eliminate waste. There are critical stages in value streaming for quality management i.e. product definition, physical transformation, and information management (Jones, Hines and rich 1997; Jostein, 2009). For the TQM model to function in lean effectively, a plan layout is made so that managers can detect mistakes and problems occurring and fix them towards a quality improvement culture. The implementation process here pursues perfection to ensure continuous incremental improvements and success in supply chain processes with minimal losses (Josteen, Bongers and Jassen 2009, 346).

In terms of TQM and manufacturing, operations lead towards operational efficiency and increased effectiveness of material flow. It also leads to improved supplier bond as well as simplified scheduling; factors are known to improve supply. An integration of the TQM helps lean operations to identify waste maximally, especially in areas of raw materials scheduling (Kilpatrick 2003).

Discussion and Conclusion

From the concepts of Lean operations as well as TQM, JIT and TPM, some important facts accrue. First, it is certain that lean implementation has a profound effect on humanity such as increased autonomy and job variety in that workers have higher levels of responsibility due to delegation and transfer of tasks an implication that companies are driven to be more aggressive and to have greater sensitivity to changing markets (Agus and Hajinoor, 2012). This, in turn, improves supply in organizations through motivated workers and competitive companies.

More to this, Lean operations alongside practices such as TPM enhance workforce flexibility so that production systems can adapt to changes in mix and volume. Flexibility is needed to ensure that production and workflows run smoothly. The smooth flow of production ultimately leads to better and adequate supply of goods and services. Still, aided with JIT applications, extended workforce flexibility can help to grow a multi-skilled workforce competent enough to run multiple machines, which increase production and ultimately lead to the supply of more high-quality products on timely basis. What is important to recall is that a lean operation system can adapt quickly to small variations in demand to ensure that production and supply increase when there is an increase in demand and vice versa hence ensuring accurate supply as well as minimizing wastage.

In conclusion, it is evident that adopting lean operations in organizations is very effective. It has a tremendous impact on the supply chain if implemented properly. Despite its evident positive implications, some people argue that the cost of the rapid flow of goods required by Lean Operations is expensive and lead times are longer and inventory rates higher. Although this might be the case, Lean operations are still worthwhile.


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