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Derek Steeple: Implementing the Lean Transformation in a Flow Processing Environment


The Lean Paradigm has been seen as a reliable and robust way of improving business performance for over 15 years. Spectacular and sustainable benefits have accrued in large companies, however success in Small- to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) is less well documented.

This paper discusses of the goals and methodology of Lean Thinking together with performance measures and analysis frameworks and why it has been so successful compared with other contemporary initiatives.

The particular challenges with implementing the Lean transformation in manufacturing SMEs are described and three case studies presented.

The paper concludes with a summary of a generic problem-identification/solution framework Biography

Derek Steeple graduated in Natural Sciences from Queens’ College Cambridge in 1972 and completed a PhD at Nottingham University in 1975.

Having started working in manufacturing industry as a product and process development engineer, between 1977 and 1988 he has worked across the spectrum of engineering, production, supply-chain, commercial and general management.

In 1988 Derek joined Coventry University where he spent the vast majority of his time working with manufacturing industry, predominantly SMEs, on a variety of management development, training, applied research and consultancy projects. He was appointed Director of the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management Centre in 1995 and in addition Head of the Engineering Business Support Unit in 1996.

In 2001 he left Coventry and worked freelance as an interim manager and consultant with a number manufacturing SMEs on business performance improvement projects which he continues to date. In 2004 he joined the Lean Engineering Group at De Montfort University part time and is currently engaged there on a number of Knowledge Transfer projects with manufacturing industry.

In addition he is a visiting professor at a number of European management schools including Lille, Brest, Rouen, Ravensburg and Kempten.

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