Improving Manufacturing Operations Using Lean Principles and Prioritizing Projects: Success Factors, Pitfalls and Challenges

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Lean manufacturing, Continuous improvement process


Industrial Engineering | Mechanical Engineering


Improving operations has been essential for manufacturing companies in gaining competitive advantage especially when the industry was heavily geared towards adopting lean principles. In the age of smart factories, implementing improvement projects to achieve a better performance is no longer a matter of choice but a necessity for company competitiveness. While success in any single project is of utmost importance, selecting the right project to start the improvement initiatives is as equally important. Therefore, prioritizing projects is a critical and necessary step for any manager to ensure better outcomes. This paper presents a case study involving a large manufacturing company’s 3-months intensive efforts targeting product and process improvement. Several projects focusing on various areas in the manufacturing process have been defined, and lean and statistical process control (SPC) tools were chosen to support improvement activities. Selecting the order of implementation and the changes that had to be made along the way provided invaluable input in framing success factors, pitfalls and challenges in prioritizing improvement projects in traditional manufacturing plants. These elements and the impacts of the decisions made are depicted through detailed descriptions of two projects. The first project was about production layout, and the second project targeted tooling process. In both improvement efforts, lean methods were used primarily.


Copyright, American Society for Engineering Management, 2019

Paper appeared in the Proceedings of the International Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Management; Huntsville, (2019).

Full-text of this paper is available to the University of New Haven community.

Publisher Citation

Thacker, H. H., Erdil, N. O., & Chen, S. (2019). Improving Manufacturing Operations Using Lean Principles And Prioritizing Projects: Success Factors, Pitfalls And Challenges. Huntsville: American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM).