Lean manufacturing effect on the profitability of an organization




Downers design is one of the growing company in the in the soft furnishing industry. The organization offers advisory service and comprehensive measuring and supply fittings such as tracks and poles with their handmade curtains, panels, blinds and also deals in upholstery. The most of the business of the organization is commissioned by the interior designers and the trade customers. The business was started in 1991 in Wandsworth by two sisters SHERI DOWNER and KELLY DOWNERS. SHERI DOWNER had ten years experience as the fabric technologist at Marks & Spencer and KELLY DOWNERS have a good experience in the soft furnishing especially in curtain. KELLY DOWNERS is now the in charge of the loose cover estimating and production. At the moment, 15 people are working for the organization. The average sale of the company is about £18000 pcm. In the recent years there is the dip in the organization profit. In 2005 the organization profit was £ 53797 after tax. But in 2006 the organization profit was -£29760. In 2008 the company make some profit up to £30224. But again in 2009 the profit decrease to £12118. (Source company internal documents)


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Silent Gliss is started in 1952 by the Swiss engineer ALEXANDER WEBER who invents the first curtain track system. The organization is considered to be the leader in the industry. At the moment is offering wide range of the window treatment and always making the innovation in this sector. This organization is operating in more than 50 countries now and still the organization is expanding in the market. One of the main reasons of their success is the innovations ideas which are inspired and driven by the customer needs. The head office of the organization is based in Gümligen Switzerland.



Silent Gliss supplies, different kinds of tracks poles and roller blinds for Downers Design to match their curtains. Both organizations have got the same field but different products. Comparison between these two companies will enable a richer understanding for the causes and consequences in preparing and implementing a perfect lean manufacturing model for Downers Design.


Following is the literature review related to this topic.


According to Radhakrishnan (2008), a process of Lean Manufacturing is the systematic elimination of waste from all aspects of an organization's operations, where waste is seen as any use or loss of resources that does not directly lead to creating the product or service that a customer wants at the time of wanting it. In many industrial processes, such non value added activity can comprise more than 90 percent of a factory's total activity.

Normally, different organizations implement lean manufacturing to achieve the highest quality product or service, at the lowest possible cost, with maximum customer sensitivity. They typically focus on the basic three key goals i.e. Reduction of requirements of product or service production resource in the form of capital and materials. Secondly, Increase in manufacturing velocity and flexibility and the third one is that the improvement in first time product quality. (Page: 94 and 95)

According to Wang (2010), the method of lean manufacturing has much in common with the Total Quality Management (TQM) strategy. These strategies empower workers on the assembly line, in this way that those closest to production must know that how the production system should work. In a lean manufacturing system, the suppliers deliver really small lots on daily basis and machines don't run at full capacity. The lean manufacturing has a primary focus that to eliminate waste which can be anything that doesn't add value to the final product gets eliminated. A second major focus is to empower workers, and try to make decisions for production at the lowest level where it can possible. The process of supply chain management factors heavily into lean manufacturing, and should be tight partnership with the suppliers. This can facilitate the rapid flow of product and parts to the shop floor. (Page: 1 and 2)


According to Radhakrishnan (2008), there are numerous methods and tools that organization uses to implement lean production system. Eight core lean methods are described briefly in the following lines. These methods include:

Kaizen Rapid Improvement Process:

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This method is all about that small, incremental changes routinely applied and persistent over a long period result in important improvements.

5S :

This method is to reduce waste and optimize productivity through maintaining an orderly workplace and using visual cures to get more reliable operational results.

Total productive maintenance :

This method engages all functions in an organization to maximize the overall value equipment.

One piece flow production system :

This method represents the first major shift in production activity and shop floor formation, and it is the key enabler of increased production velocity and flexibility.

Just-in-time production systems / kanban :

JIT enables an organization to produce the products that its customers want, when they want them, in the amount they want. JIT techniques work to level production, spreading production evenly over time to promote a smooth flow between these processes.

Six Sigma :

A sigma quality level serves as an indicator of how often defects are likely to occur in processes, parts, or products.

Pre-production planning (3P) :

This method focuses on eliminating waste through "Greenfield" product and process redesign.3pP process represents a key pivot point, as organizations move beyond a focus on efficiency to incorporate effectiveness in meeting customer needs.

Lean Enterprise Supplier Networks :

This method aim to deliver products of the right design and quantity at the right place and time, resulting in shared cost, quality, and waste reduction benefits. (Page: 99-104)


According to Swamidass (2000), these are the ten steps are used as the default methodology for lean manufacturing:

Step 1: Reengineer the manufacturing system:

Restructure or reorganize fabrication and assembly systems into cells that produce families of parts or produce. The cells should have one-piece parts movement within cells and small-lot movement between cells, achieved by creating a linked-cell system.

Step 2: Reduce and eliminate setup time:

Setup time for a cell should be less than manual time (the time a worker needs to load, unload, inspect, debut, etc)

Step 3: Integrate quality control into manufacturing:

The operation should be of the "make-one, check-one, and move-on-one" type, and the quality of product output from the system should be 100 percent.

Step 4: Integrate preventive maintenance in to manufacturing:

No equipment failure and the workers must be trained to perform routine low level process maintenance.

Step 5: Level, balance, sequence and synchronize:

Fluctuations in final assembly should be eliminated, output from cells should be equal to the necessary demand for parts downstream, and cycle time should be equal to take time for final assembly.

Step 6: Integrate production control into manufacturing:

Ensure that cells respond to demand by delivering parts and products only as they are needed, or just in time.

Step 7: Reduce work-in-process (WIP):

Minimize the necessary WIP between cells, and ensure that parts are handled one at a time within cells.

Step 8: Integrate suppliers:

Reduce the no. of suppliers and cultivate a single source for each purchased component of subassembly.

Step 9: Autorotation:

Inspection should become a part of the production process (100 percent inspection). And there should be no overproduction.

Step 10: Computer-Integrated Manufacturing:

Production system should be as free of waste as the manufacturing system. (Page: 347 and 348)


Lean manufacturing can be beneficial if it is implemented properly in the organization, and it might take time to show result. According to J P Saxena (2009) the benefits of the lean manufacturing could be dividing in to three parts.

Operational improvements.

Administrative improvements.

Strategic improvements.

In the operational part of the company it enable the organization to lower the lead time which is used in the production, the production rate of the firm increases, the work in process inventory is reduced without compromising the quality, and the space required for the production also decreases .

The other part in which the lean manufacturing plays an important role is the administration. In this department, the error in the order processing is reduced and customer service of the organization is increased. This all results in increased efficiency, reduced work force, or the same number of the staff can handle more work. Improves the recruitment process.

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The third important role is the strategic part of the organization. It enable the organization to make the new marketing strategies for the organization based on the reduce time and the reduced cost. This also helps the organization to capture more customers and it give competitive edge on other competitors. (Page 514 and 515)

The main reason behind the implementation of this system is to reduce the cost of the manufacturing and to improve the services provided.


Whenever organization wants to bring the change in the organization there is always some sort of resistance to it. This resistance could be from outside the company or it could be from inside the company as well. It is quite important for the organization to make the note of these barriers as it could delay the whole process which could effect on the organization profit, production and future target of the organization.

According to valuestreamguru.com the first barrier come from the staff of the organization itself. If all the workforce of the organization does not back the lean manufacturing in the organization it could be the failure to the organization and it could become a serious problem for the organization. Senior management play an important role in all this process. The issues come be arise from the staff they show the resistance to change or some time they are unwilling to take part in the training process. This could over all become bring problem for the organization. (www.valuestreamguru.com)



According to wiley.com another barrier which comes in the implementation of the lean manufacturing in the organization is the amount of cost requires implementing lean manufacturing in the organization. Cost could be big issue for the organization has the organization is going to bring big changes in the organization and that need hefty amount to do that. Lack of finances could become problem for the organization.


According to smthacker.co.uk another barrier for the implementation of the lean manufacturing is the structure of the organization. Is the structure of the organization is flexible then lean manufacturing could implement in the organization. So structure of the organization need to be flexible so that it can adopt new manufacturing system in the organization. Also the culture of the organization could act as the barrier for implementation of the strategy. As the organization is working on some sort of style and procedure. The implementation of lean manufacturing could result in change of that culture.



The aim of this study is to determine that causes and consequences of introducing lean manufacturing in the small companies and to study if it can increase efficiency and effectiveness?


Following are the aims and objectives of the study:

How can lean techniques could be introduced in DOWNERS DESIGNS?

What are the possible barriers to introducing lean manufacturing in DOWNERS DESIGNS?

Is there is a viable business case for doing this? In other words are the likely increases in performance sufficient to justify the financial and organizational cost (e.g. lost managerial time) in such a lean implementation plan?

Identify the training requirements needed related to lean manufacturing in the organization

Identify the best ways of introducing lean techniques in organization.

Define the expected benefits of introducing lean manufacturing in the organization.


Normally there are two types of method are used while conducting study one is the quantitative method and the other one is the qualitative method. According to Robert Murray Thomas (2003) this is method which gather information from measurement and amounts source. Which help the researcher to get the generalize result for its study. This data can be collected in so many different ways and sources, but it has to be specific towards the numerical aspect. Also it has great importance as it is the main source of the primary data in the study. (Page 1 and 2).

According to Deborah Padgett (1998) the qualitative method is more focus on the non numerical data unlike the quantitative method. In this method the data is normally collected by the questionnaires, focus groups and by the in depth interviews. This data play an important role in the in getting the in depth information regarding the study. (Page 1 and 2)


According to Philip Kotler, Gary Armstrong, Veronica Wong and John Saunders (2008) the primary data play an important role in the fulfilling the objective and defining the research in the study. As the secondary data only helps in the start of the study. It is very important to use the primary data very carefully, if the data is not used properly, it can take the study in the wrong direction which will in the end effect on the result of the study. Most of the time the primary data is collected by interviews and the questionnaires. (Page 335 and 336)

In this study the primary data will be collected by interviewing the production and sales managers of both companies.


According to Nicholas S.R Walliman the secondary data is consider to be the important source of information for the study. It helps the researcher to view the data which is already written on the subject which give the researcher the brief understanding the background and view point about different writers. (Page 273 and 274)

The main source of secondary data in this study is going to be internet, on line resources, British library, books, magazine, articles, journals and other publication. All the data from the organization will be requested and will be used in the study where ever needed.


The data used in this study will be the mixture of both qualitative and quantitative method. The data collected from both companies will not be misused and all the relevant data which will be received from different resource will be compiled in the study, and will be used according to the rules.


According to Zikmund (2000), a research design is a concept that specifies the methods and procedures for collecting and analysing the needed information. Research designs consist of three methods: exploratory, descriptive and explanatory. Each one has an individual purpose.


According to Malhotra (2004), the purpose of exploratory research is to search through a situation to provide insights and understandings. This explanation is applied when the topic to be investigated which is not properly researched. Also, Proctor (2003) argues that exploratory research is useful in finding out what is happening, to seek new insights and to ask questions to asses' phenomena in a new light.


According to Proctor (2003), the object of descriptive research is to describe the exact profile of persons or situations. Malhotra (2004) says that descriptive research is conducted to achieve different goals such as describe the characteristics of relevant groups and estimate the percentage of units in a specific population. (Page 6-8)


According to Malhotra (2004), causal research is suitable for the following purposes: To understand which variables are the causes (Independent variables) and which variables are the effects (Dependent variables) of a phenomenon as well as to determine the nature of the relationship between the causal variables and the effect to be predicted. (Page 273 and 274)

7.5Research Approach:

According to Crossan (2004), there are various reasons why the study of philosophy may be crucial in the research methodology: Firstly, it can help the researcher to specify the research methods to be used in a study. Secondly, the selection of a research philosophy will have an impact on the type of evidence gathered and its origin, the way in which such evidence is interpreted, and how it helps to answer the research questions posed. Finally, it will enable the researcher to evaluate different methods and avoid inappropriate use and unnecessary work by identifying the limitations of particular approaches. (Page 1)

Three main different research philosophies can be identified in the literature:


According to Proctor (2003), Positivism adopts a clear quantitative approach to investigating phenomena. The researcher in this approach assumes the role of an objective analyst with an emphasis on a highly structured methodology to facilitate replication and on quantifiable observations that lend themselves to statistical analysis. (Page 6-8)


Phenomenologist approaches assume that reality is multiple, subjective, and mentally constructed by individuals. The use of flexible and multiple methods is desirable as a way of studying a small sample in depth over time that can establish warranted assert ability as opposed to absolute truth (Crossan, 2004). The researcher interacts with those being researched, and findings are the outcome of this interactive process with a focus on meaning and understanding the situation or phenomenon under examination. (Page 1)


According to Suanders (2009), Realism is based on the belief that a reality exists that is independent of human thoughts and beliefs. Realism as applied to the study of human subjects recognizes the importance of understanding people's socially constructed interpretations and meanings within the context of seeking to understand broader social forces or processes that influence the nature of people's views


According to Robert Murray Thomas (2003), the quantitative' method focuses on measurement and amounts (more and less large and small or either similar or different) of the characteristics displayed by the people and events that the researcher studies.

The quantitative method with the help of prediction, seek explanation, sampling strategies and experimental design aimed to produce the generalize result. In this process the role of the person who is conducting the research is to observe and measure the response (s) in the different ways so that it can help to make a conclusion. (Page 1 and 2)


According to Deborah Padgett (1998), Qualitative data is extremely varied in nature. It includes virtually any information that can be captured that is not numerical in nature. It includes in-depth interviews, direct observations and content analysis of written documents. It describes, either explicitly or implicitly the purpose of qualitative research. There are four major qualitative approaches: (Page 1 and 2)


I have designed my study which will allow me to complete my project on the time. I have divided the work on the weekly basis. Also I will keep an eye on my schedule and I will try to follow the plan according to the chart given below.

Figure: Gantt chart with activities



















Topic selection


Read Literature




Finalise objectives



Gather Data


Analyse Data


Participant Observation




Develop interview questions




Update Literature read




Draft for feedback


Revise draft


Print and bind





In my study i will collect the primary data from two sources. One of them will be the interviews and the other will be the questionnaires. Interviews will be conducted from both of the organization and the interviews sample size will be 20.


All possible ethical consideration will be taken care of in the study. Also the data protection act regulation will be considered seriously in the study also while releasing any kind of data throughout my project.


In my project I do not require any special resource or any other type of access during my study.


In my study the only hurdle which i feel is the time for completing this project. As the time frame for the study is not enough for the in depth study of the subject. The other possible limitation could be the organization does not wish to share important information with me that could possibly effect on the overall result of the study.