In the traditional sense, information technology has often been viewed as a contributor to waste within lean production. However, as the business world changes and competition from low‐cost countries increases, new models must be developed which deliver competitive advantage by combining contemporary technological advances with the lean paradigm. The purpose of this paper is therefore to contribute within this area, and it aims to evaluate the supporting role of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in the context of lean thinking. The paper also aims to consider the application of RFID in order to revolutionize the lean paradigm, and to propose a framework for the use of RFID in order to create the extended lean enterprise, which the authors suggest can improve the competitiveness of manufacturing supply chains.
The paper's applied research methodology is case study. Having first explored the relevant literature surrounding the topic, the paper presents a conceptual framework for the role of RFID in the extended lean enterprise, and apply the framework to two practical case studies. Data were primarily collected through semi‐structured interviews with key contacts within the companies. For triangulation, the authors also made use of direct observations and company documentation.
The paper operationalizes the five lean principles with practical examples in the context of RFID in the extended lean enterprise. It uses the results to propose a conceptual framework for the role of RFID in the extended lean enterprise, which can be used by researchers and practitioners to better integrate information technology such as RFID in the lean paradigm. The case studies provide good practical examples of the applications and implications of RFID in the extended lean enterprise, with theoretically grounded insights. Such a concept appears very little in current academic literature. The findings suggest that RFID technologies are a key enabler in the development and further support of the extended lean enterprise.
Within the field of lean production and information technology, there has been a continuous debate as to whether both approaches are complimentary or contradictory. Therefore, this paper fulfils an identified need to study the interactions between a modern example of information technology (RFID) and its role within lean production, making a valid contribution within this field of research.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited