Lean manufacturing performance in China: assessment of 65 manufacturing plants

Shahram Taj (College of Business Administration, University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Publication date: 8 February 2008



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the adaptation of lean production and assess its current state of practice in selected plants in electronics, telecommunication, wireless, computer, food/beverage, garment, pharmaceutical, chemical, petroleum, printing, A/C and heating, and a few others in China.


An assessment tool is used to evaluate actual manufacturing practice related to key areas of inventory; team approach; processes; maintenance; layout/handling; suppliers; setups; quality; and scheduling and control. Manufacturing executives at manufacturing plants answered 40 questions in the assessment. Each response in the assessment is scored and a total score for each plant is recorded by adding average scores for all areas.


Application of lean production in China started in the late 1970s in the automotive industry, much earlier than by American and European manufacturers. The results of assessments show that the petroleum industry is in lead among all industries, followed by computer, telecommunication/wireless, and electronics industries. The findings from lean production system design‐related questions show low scores in layout design, volume/mix flexibility, setup, visual factory, and point‐of‐use delivery. However, plants earned high scores in materials flow, scheduling/control, on‐time delivery of finished goods, and overall defect rate. The findings have some similarity with recent studies about Chinese manufacturing firms' performance and competitiveness.

Research limitations/implications

Research findings are from some selected manufacturing plants in China and they should not be interpreted as an indicator of that particular sector in China.


This study investigates actual lean manufacturing practice and performance in Chinese plants.



Taj, S. (2008), "Lean manufacturing performance in China: assessment of 65 manufacturing plants", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 217-234. https://doi.org/10.1108/17410380810847927

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