Survey on lean practices in small and medium manufacturing enterprises in KwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are key contributors to the South African economy. In-order to survive the current volatile economy, SMEs need to implement new and efficient practices in the manufacturing operations. The manufacturing sector in South Africa is growing at a slower pace in comparison to other sectors due to high labour and production costs. However, implementing management system such as Lean practices creates the competitive advantage necessary for survival. This study explored the awareness of Lean practices in the SMEs in the manufacturing sector in KwaZulu-Natal. The study aimed to gauge the level of implementation of Lean practices, as well as to assess the challenges encountered while implementing Lean practices. A quantitative research methodology was conducted in KZN’s SMEs in the manufacturing sector. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire to seek the level of awareness and implementation benefits and challenges. Two-hundred and twenty respondents were chosen from a database directory. The findings of the study indicated that the majority of SMEs are aware of Lean Manufacturing in practice but do not understand the terminology lean manufacturing. The surveyed SME manufacturers believe that training is the best method of implementing Lean practices. Amongst the challenges is the technological factor which hinders the implementation of Lean manufacturing. The study suggests that managers, including employees, be thoroughly trained on Lean practices in order to effectively implement Lean practices. This is meant to ensure that the entire business works in unison towards common goals. It was also recommends that SMEs be taken under the wing of the larger organisations which have successfully implemented Lean practices. This will not only ensure survival, but it also has added benefits of creating partnerships
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