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Article

Ángel Martínez Sánchez, Manuela Pérez-Pérez and Silvia Vicente-Oliva

The purpose of this paper is to analyze in a sample of Spanish manufacturing firms the relationship between agile manufacturing and the firm’s management capacities…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze in a sample of Spanish manufacturing firms the relationship between agile manufacturing and the firm’s management capacities related to innovation and production flexibility. Complementarily the survey addresses the implementation of agile production and its measurement.

Design/methodology/approach

For data collection, a survey through mail to operations and human resource managers of manufacturing firms and telephonic interviews with managers from 25 selective firms was carried out. The population of the study included firms from the Sistema de Análisis de Balances Ibéricos database with NACE codes 24–32 and at least 200 employees. Quantitative methods (linear hierarchical regression and mean differences) were used to test research hypotheses, and a qualitative method (interview analysis) was used to analyze an implementation and measurement model of agile production.

Findings

The results of the study show that high-agile firms use more intensively a comprehensive set of agile facilitators (design, manufacturing and supply). They also innovate and cooperate externally more on innovation than low-agile firms. The authors have found that external technological cooperation moderates the firm’s production flexibility.

Research limitations/implications

The implications of this research indicate, on one hand, that firms interested in implementing agile production should focus on the agility management of supply chains, the skills and knowledge development of human resources and in the implementation of agile manufacturing technologies. On the other hand, firms in less cooperative environments should focus more on their internal manufacturing systems to reinforce the relationship between production flexibility and agility that offers broader scenarios to compete under this production paradigm. The main limitations of the research design are the use of cross-sectional data and the use of managerial perceptions to assess most of the variables.

Originality/value

This paper offers a model of agile production implementation that it is complemented with measurement indicators to analyze the firm’s evolution toward agility. The combination of multivariate analysis and managers’ interviews to obtain and validate results creates a value for managers interested in agile production.

Details

Baltic Journal of Management, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5265

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Article

Angel Martinez-Sanchez, Manuela Perez-Perez and Silvia Vicente-Oliva

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship between agile production (flexible production technology) and absorptive capacity.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship between agile production (flexible production technology) and absorptive capacity.

Design/methodology/approach

We use a database of 1,864 Spanish industrial firms from the Survey of Business Strategies (the largest Spanish database of its kind). Our theoretical approach is based on the resource-based view and the dynamic capabilities perspective. The methodology includes descriptive statistics analysis and lineal regression with moderator effect.

Findings

High-agile firms with greater absorptive capacity are more innovative and better performers than low-agile firms. Absorptive capacity moderates the relationship between flexible production technology and innovation performance.

Research limitations/implications

This is a cross-sectional study, which may limit the establishment of causal relationships. We give evidence to the importance of studying absorptive capacity in the agile production implementation process.

Practical implications

There are several managerial implications. First, agile production systems should be integrated into the firm’s innovation system because the continuous improvement of agile production has to be reinforced by the outputs of external knowledge and in-house innovation activities. Second firms that use external sources of knowledge to improve production processes could leverage that benefit better, not only in Operations but also in innovation performance. The adoption of flexible production technology cannot be kept apart from the firm´s organizational learning processes based on external knowledge. Our results also support the contribution of clusters of collaborative firms to improve their production processes throughout absorptive capacity and thus the implementation of agile production systems.

Originality/value

This is the first study, to the best of our knowledge, has involved the role of absorptive capacity, as an internal capability/competence, to influence the relationship between agility/flexible technology and innovation performance.

Objetivo

Analizar la relación entre producción ágil (tecnología flexible de producción) y capacidad de absorción.

Diseño/metodología/enfoque

Se utiliza una base de datos de 1.864 empresas españolas manufactureras de la Encuesta de Estrategias Empresariales (la mayor base de datos española de este tipo). Nuestro enfoque teórico está basado en la teoría de recursos y capacidades dinámicas. La metodología incluye análisis estadístico descriptivo y regresión lineal con efecto moderador.

Resultados

Las empresas ágiles con mayor capacidad de absorción son más innovadoras y obtienen mejores resultados que las empresas menos ágiles. La capacidad de absorción modera la relación entre tecnología de producción flexible y los resultados de innovación.

Limitaciones de investigación/implicaciones

Es un estudio de corte transversal lo que limita el establecimiento de relaciones causales. Ese evidencia la importancia de estudiar la capacidad de absorción en el proceso de implantación de la producción ágil.

Implicaciones prácticas

Hay varias implicaciones de gestión. La primera es que los sistemas de producción ágil deberían integrarse en el sistema de innovación de la empresa porque la mejora continua de la producción ágil ha de reforzarse con los outputs del conocimiento externo y las actividades internas de innovación. La segunda es que las empresas que utilizan fuentes externas de conocimiento para mejorar los procesos de producción podrían apalancar mejor ese beneficio, no solo en Operaciones sino también en resultados de innovación. La adopción de tecnología de producción flexible no puede mantenerse al margen de los procesos de aprendizaje organizativos basados en el conocimiento externo. Nuestros resultados también apoyan la contribución de los cluster de empresas colaboradoras para mejorar sus procesos de producción mediante la capacidad de absorción y con ello la implantación de sistemas de producción ágil.

Implicaciones sociales

No es aplicable

Originalidad/valor

Este es el primer estudio, en la medida de nuestro conocimiento, que ha considerado el papel de la capacidad de absorción, como competencia/capacidad interna, para influir en la relación entre tecnología flexible e innovación.

Palabras clave

Capacidad de absorción, Tecnología flexible de producción, Innovación

Tipo de artículo

Trabajo de investigación

Objetivo

Analisar a relação entre produção ágil (tecnologia de produção flexível) e capacidade de absorção.

Design/metodologia/abordagem

Um banco de dados de 1.864 empresas de manufatura espanholas é usado no Business Strategies Survey (o maior banco de dados espanhol desse tipo). Nossa abordagem teórica é baseada na teoria de recursos e capacidades dinâmicas. A metodologia inclui análise estatística descritiva e regressão linear com efeito moderador.

Resultados

Empresas ágeis com maior capacidade de absorção são mais inovadoras e obtêm melhores resultados que empresas menos ágeis. A capacidade de absorção modera a relação entre a tecnologia de produção flexível e os resultados da inovação.

Limitações/implicações da pesquisa

Trata-se de um estudo transversal que limita o estabelecimento de relações causais. Isso mostra a importância de se estudar a capacidade de absorção no processo de implementação da produção ágil.

Implicações práticas

Existem várias implicações de gerenciamento. A primeira é que os sistemas ágeis de produção devem ser integrados ao sistema de inovação da empresa, porque a melhoria contínua da produção ágil deve ser reforçada com os resultados de conhecimento externo e atividades internas de inovação. A segunda é que as empresas que usam fontes externas de conhecimento para melhorar os processos de produção podem aproveitar melhor esse benefício, não apenas nas operações, mas também nos resultados da inovação. A adoção de tecnologia de produção flexível não pode ser mantida fora dos processos de aprendizagem organizacional baseados em conhecimento externo. Nossos resultados também apoiam a contribuição do agrupamento de empresas colaboradoras para melhorar seus processos de produção através da capacidade de absorção e com isso a implementação de sistemas ágeis de produção.

Implicações sociais

não aplicável

Originalidade/valor

Este é o primeiro estudo, na medida do nosso conhecimento, que considerou o papel da capacidade de absorção, como competência / capacidade interna, para influenciar a relação entre tecnologia flexível e inovação.

Palavras-chave

Capacidade de absorção, Tecnologia de produção flexível, Inovação

Tipo de artigo

Trabalho de pesquisa

Details

Management Research: Journal of the Iberoamerican Academy of Management, vol. 17 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1536-5433

Keywords

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Article

Rajesh Krishnamurthy and Charlene A. Yauch

To propose a theoretical model of leagile manufacturing as it applies to a single corporate enterprise with multiple business units and to generate research questions…

Abstract

Purpose

To propose a theoretical model of leagile manufacturing as it applies to a single corporate enterprise with multiple business units and to generate research questions stemming from the model that should be addressed in the future.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study company was analyzed to determine whether the concept of leagility could be applied to a single corporation with multiple business units and whether a decoupling point would be necessary to distinguish the lean and agile portions of the enterprise. The case study findings are used as the basis for describing a theoretical corporate leagile infrastructure and for stimulating new research questions.

Findings

It is possible for a corporation to simultaneously pursue both lean and agile manufacturing strategies by adopting a leagile infrastructure. The organizational structure consists of three main levels: a corporate headquarters, a sales and service group, and multiple lean production units. There is a decoupling point that separates the lean and agile portions of the enterprise. This organizational structure matches the front‐back approach, one of the large/small strategies defined by Lawler in 1997.

Research limitations/implications

A single company was examined. Studying a broader range of companies would make the described theoretical leagile corporate infrastructure more robust.

Practical implications

Manufacturing corporations might find the infrastructure described to be a beneficial way to structure their own organizations in order to capitalize on the benefits of both the lean and agile manufacturing strategies.

Originality/value

This paper expands on the concept of leagility, previously discussed in the literature with respect to supply chains and individual manufacturing plants, by applying it to a single corporation with multiple business units. Similar to other characterizations of leagile manufacturing, it was found that the corporation operates with a decoupling point between the agile and lean portions of the business. Several new avenues for further research are outlined.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 27 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Amir Qamar and Mark Hall

The purpose of this paper is to robustly establish whether firms are implementing Lean or Agile production in the automotive supply chain (SC) and, by drawing on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to robustly establish whether firms are implementing Lean or Agile production in the automotive supply chain (SC) and, by drawing on contingency theory (CT) as our theoretical lens, independently determine whether Lean and Agile firms can be distinguished based upon contextual factors.

Design/methodology/approach

Primary quantitative data from 140 firms in the West Midlands (UK) automotive industry were obtained via a constructed survey. Analysis incorporated the use of logistic regressions to calculate the probability of Lean and Agile organisations belonging to different groups amongst the contextual factors investigated.

Findings

Lean and Agile firms co-exist in the automotive SC and Lean firms were found to be at higher tiers of the SC, while Agile firms were found to be at lower tiers.

Originality/value

The originality of this study lies within the novel methodological attempt used to distinguish Lean and Agile production, based upon the contextual factors investigated. Not only is the importance of CT theoretically approved, but “received wisdom” within SC management is also contested. Extant literature propagates that the automotive SC is comprised of organisations that predominantly adopt Lean production methods, and that in SCs comprised of both Lean and Agile organisations, the firms closer to the customer will adopt more flexible (Agile) practices, while those that operate upstream will adopt more efficient (Lean) practices. The findings from this study have implications for theory and practice, as Lean and Agile firms can be found in the automotive SC without any relationship to the value-adding process. To speculate as to why the findings contest existing views, resource dependence theory and, more specifically, a power perspective, was invoked. The authors provide readers with a new way of thinking concerning complicated SCs and urge that the discipline of SC management adopts a “fourth” SC model, depicting a new Lean and Agile SC configuration.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

Keywords

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Article

Helio Castro, Goran D. Putnik and Vaibhav Shah

The aim of this paper is to analyze international and national research and development (R&D) programs and roadmaps for the manufacturing sector, presenting how agile and…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to analyze international and national research and development (R&D) programs and roadmaps for the manufacturing sector, presenting how agile and lean manufacturing models are addressed in these programs.

Design/methodology/approach

In this review, several manufacturing research and development programs and roadmaps – national programs from the USA and Canada, and international programs from the European Union and from one international organization – are reviewed.

Findings

The major finding of this review is that the main concerns in agile manufacturing, as highlighted in these programs, are networks, supply chain and product/service customization, and lean manufacturing's inclination towards achieving better cost efficiency. Although the lean manufacturing approach has been considered in many past and present programs, analysis of the most recent programs shows a greater priority is given to the agile manufacturing approach. The path towards sustainable manufacturing is delineated by pro‐active attitude and action towards customers.

Research limitations/implications

The study analyzes two national R&D programs from the USA, one international program from the European Union, three international roadmaps from the European Union, one business plan from Canada and one international roadmap from the global organization Intelligent Manufacturing Systems.

Practical implications

The findings of this paper are intended to help managers, researchers and practitioners from the manufacturing sector to enhance their understanding and define suitable strategy for their organizations' sustainability and identify suitable manufacturing path with respect to agile and lean philosophies. This study could also help academics in defining course curricula for students more coherent with the R&D policies and/or requirements towards sustainable manufacturing with respect to agile and lean philosophies.

Originality/value

There are reviews comparing agile and lean manufacturing paradigms, but there are no reviews about how the two manufacturing concepts are addressed in manufacturing R&D programs and roadmaps.

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Article

Daniel Vázquez‐Bustelo, Lucía Avella and Esteban Fernández

Despite the fact that agile manufacturing has been frequently promoted as a means of improving business competitiveness, little empirical evidence exists in the literature…

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the fact that agile manufacturing has been frequently promoted as a means of improving business competitiveness, little empirical evidence exists in the literature validating its positive link with business performance. The purpose of this research paper is to analyse agile manufacturing in Spain and study whether it is a critical factor for success in different industries.

Design/methodology/approach

A conceptual model is drawn up, based on the literature and a previous case study, to relate turbulence in the environment with agile manufacturing practices and business performance. The model is tested on a large sample of Spanish manufacturers using a survey methodology to obtain information and a structural equation model to analyse the data.

Findings

The results obtained show that, in turbulent environments, the integrated use of agile manufacturing practices promotes manufacturing competitive strength, leading to better operational, market and financial performance.

Research limitations/implications

This study has two main limitations. First, it is difficult to determine the most suitable unit of analysis when studying agile manufacturing. Second, single respondent bias may be considered a limitation.

Practical implications

Managers should consider the integrated implementation of agile manufacturing practices in order to develop manufacturing strength and to outperform competitors in turbulent business environments.

Originality/value

This study adopts a systematic approach to the analysis of agile manufacturing, considering various agility practices or enablers in an integrated way and relating them not only to environmental characteristics but also to business performance. This approach is especially interesting because most of the literature on agile manufacturing deals with agility strategies or techniques in an isolated way. The study also tests the suitability of agile manufacturing in real organisations – for the first time in the Spanish context.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 27 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Rolando Quintana

An analysis of the US border manufacturing industry revealed that, while a plentiful supply of inexpensive labor is available, there are high levels of absenteeism and…

Abstract

An analysis of the US border manufacturing industry revealed that, while a plentiful supply of inexpensive labor is available, there are high levels of absenteeism and turnover. This in turn has affected this industry’s ability to implement lean and agile manufacturing production environments. It was argued that lower inventory levels and quicker response time to market fluctuations are required for these manufacturers to stay competitive. Yet, without careful consideration of the idiosyncrasies of the infrastructure, the change to leaner and more agile manufacturing could destroy some of these plants. The high levels of absenteeism and turnover, which have a direct bearing on the low and variable product yield rates, could cause an agile and lean production system to fail. Yet this research has shown that a recursive, pull‐type production control system that will meet the required daily quota and minimize inventory while accounting for high levels of absenteeism and turnover that directly affect workstation yield rates would be advantageous. That is, a US border manufacturer can become leaner and more agile in spite of the drawbacks that are germane to the US border manufacturing industry.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 18 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article

Arash Shahin and Rezvan Jaberi

The purpose of this paper is to propose an integrative model of leagile production and to examine its influence on the quality of products based on Six Sigma approach.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose an integrative model of leagile production and to examine its influence on the quality of products based on Six Sigma approach.

Design/methodology/approach

A new model has been proposed in which the three strategies of postponement, mass customization, and modularization are included together with an executive algorithm. The proposed model has been examined using three main products of the Ghods Manufacturing Group, which is a manufacturer of truck body parts, from March to July 2008. In the case study, upstream and downstream processes (after processes warehousing of the semi‐manufactured parts) have been considered for the implementation of lean and agile production strategies, respectively. The product waiting time in the production section has been considered as the lean production indicator, and the warehousing time in the final warehouse has been considered as the indicator of agile manufacturing. These indicators have been evaluated before and after implementation of the proposed model and the sigma level of the studied processes has been evaluated.

Findings

The results imply that the sigma level the product A has been improved by 147 percent considering the first indicator and by 8 percent considering the second indicator. Also, product B has 65 and 47 percent and product C has 65 and 150 percent of improvement considering the two indicators, respectively.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed model has not been implemented in a wide range of operations and has not covered all of the products of the case study. Also, due to the lack of literature on standard criteria for evaluating leagile production, the criterion of the duration of waste has been defined and used for leanness and the duration of final storage has been defined and applied to assembly line based on specific orders from customers, which in turn might be realized as a limitation. In comparing the process before and after improvement, there might exist other unknown factors by which, results would be affected.

Originality/value

While the literature includes researches on leagile production and its advantages, this investigation further proposes a leagile production model which includes three strategies of postponement, mass customization, and modularization and is employed based on Six Sigma approach.

Details

International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, vol. 2 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-4166

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Article

Goran D. Putnik and Zlata Putnik

The objective of this paper is to provide a deeper insight into the relationship of the issue “lean vs agile” in order to inform managers towards more coherent decisions…

Abstract

Purpose

The objective of this paper is to provide a deeper insight into the relationship of the issue “lean vs agile” in order to inform managers towards more coherent decisions especially in a dynamic, unpredictable, uncertain, non‐linear environment.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodology is an exploratory study based on secondary data analysis.

Findings

“Lean” and “agile” are two exclusive concepts “in the limit” and “agile” has a higher potential for serving as an instrument for starting “a journey” towards a new sustainable organizational paradigm.

Research limitations/implications

Further research in the context of the arguments presented is necessary, especially in the “field” and on primary data.

Practical implications

There are clearly indicated contexts of primary applications of “lean” and “agile”, and especially along with the techniques, methodologies and system‐thinking informed by chaordic system thinking (CST), which should be of help for managers.

Originality/value

The novel contribution of the paper is the presentation of the argumentation on “lean” and “agile” as exclusive concepts and their analysis through the CST lenses, as well as the presentation of suggestions for development of new manufacturing systems paradigms.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 19 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article

Mattias Hallgren and Jan Olhager

Lean and agile manufacturing are two initiatives that are used by manufacturing plant managers to improve operations capabilities. The purpose of this paper is to…

Abstract

Purpose

Lean and agile manufacturing are two initiatives that are used by manufacturing plant managers to improve operations capabilities. The purpose of this paper is to investigate internal and external factors that drive the choice of lean and agile operations capabilities and their respective impact on operational performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Lean and agile manufacturing are each conceptualized as a second‐order factor and measured through a bundle of distinct practices. The competitive intensity of industry and the competitive strategy are modeled as potential external and internal drivers, respectively, and the impact on quality, delivery, cost, and flexibility performance is analyzed using structural equations modeling. The model is tested with data from the high performance manufacturing project comprising a total of 211 plants from three industries and seven countries.

Findings

The results indicate that lean and agile manufacturing differ in terms of drivers and outcomes. The choice of a cost‐leadership strategy fully mediates the impact of the competitive intensity of industry as a driver of lean manufacturing, while agile manufacturing is directly affected by both internal and external drivers, i.e. a differentiation strategy as well as the competitive intensity of industry. Agile manufacturing is found to be negatively associated with a cost‐leadership strategy, emphasizing the difference between lean and agile manufacturing. The major differences in performance outcomes are related to cost and flexibility, such that lean manufacturing has a significant impact on cost performance (whereas agile manufacturing has not), and that agile manufacturing has a stronger relationship with volume as well as product mix flexibility than does lean manufacturing.

Research limitations/implications

Cross‐sectional data from three industries and seven countries are used, and it would be interesting to test this model for more industries and countries.

Practical implications

The results provide insights into the factors that influence the choice of lean or agile manufacturing for improving operations, and the results that can be obtained.

Originality/value

To the authors' knowledge, this is the first large‐scale empirical survey of leanness and agility simultaneously, using data from manufacturing firms in Europe, Asia, and North America. The model incorporates a wide perspective on factors related to lean and agile manufacturing, to be able to identify similarities and differences.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 29 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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