Designing Food Supply Chains: An Application of Lean Manufacturing and Lean Supply Chain Paradigms to the Spanish Egg Industry

Since Womack et al. (1990) published “The Machine that Changed the World”, showing the results of an international assembly plant benchmarking study carried out by the MIT International Motor Vehicle Program, the Lean Production paradigm, initially based on the Toyota Production System, has been applied successfully by an increasing number of leading companies within the automotive industry. Currently, Lean Production methodologies and tools have already shown their potential, both in manufacturing and service sectors, to improve dramatically productivity, speed, responsiveness, delivered value, and profits. Lean Manufacturing has also been applied by large companies in the agri-food sector, but there is little information on these applications available in the scientific literature. Similarly to applications of other Total Quality Management improvement methodologies such as Six Sigma, highly specialized consulting companies are playing a major role in supporting and facilitating its introduction in large companies. However, it is not clear whether these methodologies can be applied to SMEs following the same patterns. This paper illustrates the application of Lean Production methodologies and tools in an egg producing medium enterprise. In this initiative, a team from the Technical University of Madrid and consultants from Galgano Group, a consulting company with an extensive experience in Lean Production, have collaborated under the financial support of the Spanish Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI). Preliminary results as well as strengths and weaknesses of the Lean Production methodology applied in this specific context are discussed. A connected issue is the role of Lean Manufacturing in the design of Lean Supply Chains for standard food products. Shell eggs are a good example of a standard food product. Advocates of Supply Chain Management maintain that competition is shifting from firm versus firm to supply chain versus supply chain. Supply Chain Management integrates suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and customers by using information and communication technologies to meet final consumer needs and expectations efficiently and effectively. Researchers in this field are investigating how to design and build more effective supply chains. Recently, a theoretical framework for supply chain design has been proposed. This framework establishes a connection between the type of product being produced (standard, innovative, or hybrid) and the type of supply chain (lean, agile, or hybrid) that could be more effective and competitive. The feasibility of applying this framework to the Spanish egg supply chains is examined. Adopting a case study perspective, this paper explores the possibilities of connecting Lean initiatives at company level with improvements in the coordination of food supply chains. 314 Designing Food Supply Chains: An Application of Lean Manufacturing and Lean Supply Chain paradigms... The results of this case study will be disseminated by the Spanish Association of Egg Producers (ASEPRHU) in the framework of a R&D project financed by the National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA).

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-23

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