Applying Lean thinking in the Food Supply Chains: A Case Study

Article English OPEN
Vlachos, I (2015)
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Subject:
    mesheuropmc: nutritional and metabolic diseases

The purpose of the study is to examine the adoption and implementation of lean thinking in food supply chains. Since the majority of food companies are small and medium food enterprises (SMEs), a lean action plan was developed taking into account the particularities of SMEs. The methodology used was a case study research of a UK tea company. An action research approach was adopted to study the lean process and diagnose the problems which occurred during lean implementation. The present study developed a lean action plan with three stages: (a) Planning for lean; (b) Interim lean diagnosis; and (c) Lean operations and control. The first stage includes the following steps: find a change agent, get the knowledge, find a lever, and suspend grand strategy. Interim lean diagnosis revealed issues with top management support, expert knowledge, and operational easiness. The last stage, lean operations and control includes the following steps: (i) Re-define Value; (ii) Map Process Activities and Value Streams; (iii) Detect Waste; (iv) Develop an Ideal State of Production and Supply Chain Operations; and (v) Control lean operations. The potential contribution of lean food small and medium companies can be enormous given the percentage of food waste across supply chains. The contribution of this study is threefold: (a) it develops a new lean action plan for small and medium companies; (b) it sheds light on how lean thinking can be applied in the food sector and achieve substantial waste reductions; (c) it tests a unique reflecting methodology using action case research to gather, interpret, and develop reflective learning.
  • References (2)

    & Control: The Management of Operations, 23 (7): 513-522.

    Bowen, E.D. and Yo - International Journal of Service Industry Management, 9(3): 207 225.

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