Impact of Lean Operations on Sustainability, Dissertation Example
Impact of lean operations on sustainability and operational performance through digital product management within the aviation industry (airfreight) and its logistics and supply chain
With the global market becoming increasingly competitive, enterprises are under enormous pressure to undertake operational efficiencies and enhance their effectiveness to lower costs and provide higher-quality products in timely deliveries. Enterprises have broadly used lean production principles and techniques to succeed and gain a strong position in the market (Garza-Reyes et al., 2012, p.40). Lean manufacturing is a production management initiative that seeks to make companies more competitive by raising efficiency and reducing costs by eliminating quasi-added phases and wasted resources in the procedure (Garza-Reyes et al., 2012, p.24).
The lean strategy encompasses various methods and tools to improve an organization’s operational performance. one of the methods is lean digital product management. The goal of digital product management is to find the most efficient and effective way to develop products that offer the best value and meet business objectives while taking internal and external constraints into account. Businesses must be competitive and sustainable, and cost-effective operations must be implemented to ensure a consistent and optimal consumer experience. Digital Lean, which has its roots in Lean Operations and is defined as the application of lean principles to the development process of new digital products, plays an important role in increasing organizational efficiency by focusing on cost reduction, waste elimination, and driving processes based on customer needs (Koh et al., 2020, p. 17).
Even though Lean Operations originated in the industrial sector, its fundamental principles can be found in various enterprises such as transportation, air, urban travel, logistics, and supply chain. They can be applied in various ways to work within a specific industry (Jack, 2021, np). Lean Operations provides benefits in all areas where it is used since it is a data-driven decision-making framework that aims at identifying and eliminating root causes of waste and inefficiency. Lean operations emphasize continuous improvement and are thought to be an effective method for uncovering hidden issues. Lean concepts focus on creating value for clients, limiting all forms of waste within the organization, and optimizing to attain optimal quality products and services.
The new approach proposes using Lean Operations to design and execute sustainable practices in the travel industry, such as air and urban travel, logistics, transportation, supply chain, and customer experience. Today’s travel industries are distinguished by exceptional user experiences and a high level of personalization in customer packages and deals. This, coupled with higher international competition, implies that travel companies must be adaptable and efficient to meet customer demands and stay competitive.
Travel companies must constantly seek better ways to enhance operational efficiency to meet these challenges. Over the last ten years, perhaps the most well-known strategy to improve service and operational efficiency in logistics, transportation, and supply chain has been Digital Lean, which is essentially Lean Management principles applied to Digital Product Management. It is a deliberate approach to continuous improvement that supports employees and improves travel industry services by transforming traditional working methods into a more oriented strategy on operations that provide customer satisfaction (Zhou et al., 2021, p.32).
The market for supply-chain technology has increased remarkably, and logistics is at a tipping point that will result in major shifts in the way the industry works. The formation of clear data norms for the segment, which will be critical to unlocking the enormous potential of digitals such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, is at the heart of this technology advancement. Simultaneously, leveraging these new technologies will necessitate significant changes in how businesses and logistics providers handle and react to the knowledge generated. The fourth industrial revolution and the idea of innovation Digital Product Management are viewed as enablers for increasing the efficiency of transportation, logistics, and supply chain management (Koh et al., 2020, p.54).
As a result, most businesses seek Digital Transformation as part of Industry 4.0. Digital Transformation can be centered on transportation, logistics, and supply chains, which is why concepts like “future trends” or “smart reforms” are synonymous with this notion. The effect of digitization on logistics and the significance of the supply chain in Industry 4.0, on the other hand, can be numerous. This feature’s main promises are clarity from suppliers to consumers, small-lot processing, various product variants, networked procedures, and decentralized, independent management. These advantages cannot be realized only concerning production but also the entire value chain. Furthermore, logistics must best explain how to fulfill the criteria of Industry 4.0 in the most feasible way possible by utilizing the appropriate frameworks to enable bringing together the appropriate technology and enhancing horizontal and vertical assimilation among supply chain members (Ivanov et al., 2017, p.81).
Moreover, the importance of Digital Product Management as a mediator in the Industry 4.0 revolution cannot be overstated. Travel companies incorporate Digital Lean frameworks such as the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) into their core business products, designs, and procedures to enhance digitization. SAFe is a good system for instituting a Digital Lean and Agile conceptual approach through Product Management (SAFe, 2021). It helps businesses develop and deliver the highest services and products while adapting to change. It is presently the most widely used Agile scaling framework. It was created to enhance job satisfaction, quality services, time-to-market, distribution, air and urban travel, transportation, and supply chains (SAFe, 2021). Therefore, the study indulged in assessing the impacts of lean operations on sustainability and operational performance through digitalization.
To analyze the impacts of Lean Operation-based models on sustainability and operational performance through Digital Product Management.
To investigate the role of the newly created Lean Digital Product Management framework to enhance sustainable efficiency and wastage reduction within the airline industry (Airfreight) in the United Arab Emirates through optimization of some of its business processes.
To study the necessity of Industry 4.0 tools and innovations within the Digital Transformation process of the airline industry (Airfreight).
To recommend the effectiveness and integration of a Lean Digital Product Management operational model in contemporary or future sustainable practices.
- What are the implications of Lean Operations on sustainability and operational performance when facilitated by Digital Product Management models?
- What is the role of such models based on Lean Operations and Quality, such as Lean Digital Product Management, on sustainability and operational performance in some of the airline industry’s business processes, particularly in Airfreight?
- How can we adopt Industry 4.0 innovations within Digital Product Management to enhance key business processes from sustainability and operational performance perspectives?
2.0 Literature Review
2.1 Lean manufacturing and operations
Lean manufacturing aims to reduce waste and quasi operations (Womack, Jones, and Roos 1990, np). Internally, this is evidenced in manufacturing via, among other things, simplified, reliable, and standardized procedures; minimal inventories; one-piece material flows; manufacturing founded on real down flow market; brief sessions; and workers participating in non-stop enhancement exertions (Chavez et al. 2015, p. 32). These factors can contribute to developments in various aspects of functioning efficiency, like merchandise value and manufacturing costs, main time, versatility, and dependability (Marodin and Saurin 2013, p. 24).
Various researches have been conducted since lean production became common and a mainline organizational strategy, intending to determine the actual impacts of lean manufacturing on operational performance (Ciano et al. 2019, np). Krafcik (1988) coined the term “lean” and published one of the first studies linking lean producers to traditional many manufacturing entities. According to (Mackelprang and Nair, 2010, np) meta-analysis of 25 articles investigating the link between lean production operations and performance, their findings showed that while the operationalization of lean production operations and operational effectiveness varies across research, the general opinion is that adopting lean production is positively linked to improved operating efficiency (Marodin and Saurin 2013).
2.2 Digitalization of manufacturing
Enhanced digitization of production processes is expected to bring about major changes in industrial production. It has the potential to facilitate novel and more effective procedures and novel goods and services (OECD 2017, np). It is projected to significantly impact organizational systems, commercial models, supply chains, and the production conditions (Hahn 2020). Evolving technological advances will bring about disruptive changes to the current technology, particularly system assimilation (Winkelhaus and Grosse 2020, np).
Currently, the perception of a 4th industrial revolt, is rising (Lasi et al. 2014, p.33). Industry 4.0 began as a German administration initiative to boost competition in the German production sector (Kagermann et al., 2013, p. 15). Nevertheless, over decades, the word Industry 4.0 has progressed to an all-encompassing identity for defining the next production period. As a result, it has become an ill-defined slogan for the prospect of manufacturing. Despite Industry 4.0 being one of the most widely debated subjects amongst experts and researchers in recent ages, no distinct definition of the idea has been created; thus, no widely acknowledged comprehension of Industry 4.0 has yet to be released (Moeuf et al. 2018, p.22).
Industry 4.0 can be defined as a canopy term that refers to various recent approaches and spans several industries (Lasi et al., 2014). It can be generally described as a visualisation of the future production in which a better production condition is created by using a wide variety of new mobile technology. Industry 4.0 is a broad concept that encompasses a growing range of technologies. Digitalization is a general concept than Industry 4.0 in several ways because it has affected and will keep on impacting the society for many years. Digitalization of manufacturing can be described broadly as “the use of digital data and technology to digitize data handling and process efficiency” (Buer et al., 2018, p. 37).It is particularly relevant to independent information gathering and examination and linkages among products, procedures, and people (Buer et al., 2018; Sjbakk 2018).
Whereas Industry 4.0 is a perception of how production will be completed in the coming years, industry digitalization is perceived as a significant contributor of acquiring there (Pfohl et al., 2017, p.27). Plant digitalization is the digitalization of the manufacturing methods, for instance, through digital sensors and technology. When combined with innovative company software, it can provide an actual time view of the manufacturing procedure (Kagermann et al., 2013, p. 21). Another feature of a fully digital factory is the assimilation of the vertical supply chain, from product growth to manufacturing, and highly integrated planning, from forecasts to production (Kagermann et al., 2013, p.33). One assertion for concentrating on industry digitalization rather than the full-fledged Industry 4.0 idea is that utmost industrial businesses are still in the initial course of establishing Industry 4.0 innovations, and therefore have a more elementary category of information technology utilization than we generally equate with Industry 4.0 (Moeuf et al. 2018, np).
Moeuf et al. (2018, np) examined various case studies from the works coverage on Industry 4.0 preliminary studies. They discovered that the most consistently testified presentation gains were additional mobility, enhanced output value, cost reduction and provision time. Dalenogare et al. (2018. p.45) studied the impacts of few of the technological innovations commonly related with Industry 4.0 applying secondary information from a survey study of industries in Brazil. They discovered that computer assisted configuration with computer assisted production, digital mechanisation with detectors, and large volumes of data positively correlated with operating efficiency. On the other hand, the class added production had a negative correlation with operating efficiency. As previously demonstrated, several previous works studied the effects of lean manufacturing and technologies on achievement distinctly. However, the primary goal of the study is to assess their effects on operational performance.
2.3 Digital transformation in the airline industry
While customer flights provide various reservation pathways, enabling clear product correlation and shopping experiences, and have embraced digital receipts, airline continue to depend on out-dated means like as calling points to boost rates that are not readily similar to the rivalry and widely use many paper accounts for their freights. Nonetheless, digital is generating new value propositions in every industry, and consumers’ growing needs for personalized, on-demand and mobile services are not being met. Precisely, the minimal responsibility of offer pricing, the absence of clarity on regionalization, and the state of freight transport do not meet current consumer expectations.
Moreover, the sector still depends heavily on paper-based methods to exchange freight data together with the global supply chain. This absence of information assimilation and calibration is susceptible to meagre information quality, and mistakes restrict the end-to-end awareness and expectation along the shipping journey, exposing any unforeseen situation and bringing shortfalls to the distribution chain.
Main cargo airlines have responded to customer demand for greater freight offer transparency by launching online booking portals. The emergence of a novel straight reservation means: is not only available instantly and updated in real-time, but the booking and imbursement procedures are largely aided, and door-to-door service, along with customs procedures, can even be provided. Airfreight services are now available to consumers, who can send any form of individual element in a comfortable, fast, and economical means by searching for the cheapest possible rate over a given period and specifying the form of products and particular management required.
Simultaneously, online freight marketplaces emerge, enabling shippers and transportation providers to conduct business activities. Hangar A, a startup, offers shippers on the US household market dynamic smart steering and prices depending on airfreight departure and landing, the type of cargo, aspects, weight-related ULD options, and special negotiated rates. Like travelling agents, these modern electronic platforms enable a distinct suggestion correlation between givers who have communal accessibility and rates. Other platforms, such as many cargos, streamline the freight forwarder choice process by allowing shippers to submit their shipment online and collect offers from cargo forwarders that are more comparable than the traditional process of making different messages to different cargo forwarders.
Even though they are still in their early stages, with minimal topographical richness and incomplete conveyance worth chain handling, these online platforms are viewed as differentiators for traditional “bricks and mortar” freight forwarders. Nevertheless, these systems are still a long way from calling into question the out-dated responsibility of cargo approvers. Reservation assistance and price citing are important added values for supply chains; nevertheless, customs authorization and certification, impermanent storage, last mile supply, and various other services highlight freight forwarders’ pillar role inside the worth chain.
2.4 sustainability of Lean operations
The gradual digitization of products and services is expected to result in disruptive changes (Zhou et al., 2021). Digital Lean is intended to enable new products and services and new and more efficient operations, as well as to cause significant impacts on organizational frameworks, marketing strategies, transportation, travel, supply chains, logistics, and manufacturing environments (Ivanov et al., 2017). New digital technologies will fundamentally alter technology as we know it today, particularly by enhancing organizational integration (Ivanov et al., 2017). A vision of Industry 4.0 is emerging, and it is a German administration initiative to rise the competitiveness of the German commerce (Koh et al., 2020).
Nevertheless, in the perspective of the lean production model, the term Industry 4.0 has quickly become a common term for the next era of production and a buzzword for manufacturing’s unforeseeable future. Lean manufacturing is concerned with reducing waste and non-value-added activities (Iranmanesh et al., 2019, p. 25). Internally, this expresses itself in optimum, stable, and standardized procedures, negligible inventories, single product flow, manufacturing based on real demand, reduced transition period times, and employee participation in continual learning (Giret et al., 2015). All of these factors contribute to improved operating efficiency in product quality, manufacturing costs, lead time, flexibility, and dependability (Correia et al., 2021, np). Therefore, lean production methods are absolutely linked to improved operational performance.
2.5 The integration of lean operations and digitization
While there has been some skepticism in the past about the suitability of lean production and IT solutions, more research has lately concentrated on the profits of merging these two areas (Pinho and Mendes 2017, np). Various studies have found that lean production coupled with Information technology (Goienetxea et al., 2020, np) has operational efficiencies.
Since the acceleration of investigation on this connection in 2016, trainings have gradually progressed away from exclusively theoretical educations and more empirically-based studies (Buer et al., 2018, p.43). On a theoretical standard, Sanders et al. (2017, np) think that the idea of lean production will not disappear but somewhat develop more essential to an effective Industry 4.0 execution. They assert that the emergence of Industry 4.0 will benefit the majority of lean manufacturing tools. At the same time, some lean production implements can also be conduits or even necessities for the transition to Industry 4.0.
They specifically identify equipment effectiveness maintenance, Kanban, manufacturing levelling, autonomy, and eliminating waste as lean production elements that will profit from the introduction of digital innovations. Moreover, they argue that the elements of the Industry 4.0 vision that will most help lean production are real-time capacity, decentralization, and interoperability. Kolberg, et al (2017, p. 19) provide some real-world examples of how CPS can be used for non-stop development and how it can improve the lean production tools. Parallel research assessing the possible boundaries between Industry 4.0 innovations and lean production methods are regularly issued.
Lately, empirical evidence exploring the impacts of simultaneous use of lean manufacturing 4.0 on efficiency has begun to emerge. Kamble et al (2020,p.12) discovered that implementing lean production has a full interceding impact on the relationships amid Industry 4.0 innovations and ecological organization effectiveness through a research study of Indian manufacturing firms. Their findings show that Industry 4.0 innovations, by themselves, do not add to enhanced performance but somewhat serve as enablers of lean production.
A survey of manufacturers in Brazil, Tortorella and Fettermann (2018, p.21) discovered that implementing lean production and Industry 4.0 concurrently leads to increased performance. Later, Rossini et al. (2019, p.43) conducted a study on European manufacturers using a same research strategy. Their results recommend that producers aiming to implement Industry 4.0 should also execute lean production to help operational efficiencies. Nevertheless, none of the researches used to regulators factors to regulate for methodical biasing impacts that could have impacted the quality of the findings. Tortorella et al. (2019,p.32) explored the controlling impacts of certain Industry 4.0 groups on the connection between some factors of lean production and operating efficiency in another study of manufacturers in Brazil.
Their findings revealed that product and service-related innovations mediated the relation amid steady supply and operating effectiveness. In contrast, process-related innovations negatively mediated the connection between configuration time minimization and working performance. Nevertheless, the study’s strategy did not cover aspects like manufacturing regularity or the extent of the lean production initiative, which could have affected the findings. Moreover, as the writers noted, social and economic factors may have affected the findings. As previously demonstrated, previous research is divided on the condition of the rassociation between lean manufucturing and evolving digital expertise and their consolidated effect on performance. Moreover, Ghobakhloo and Hong (2014, p.23) stated that the dynamic nature of IT, with its fast development, necessitates revised studies that investigate and clarify its relationship with lean production. Therefore, lean manufacturing and factory digitalization synergetically improve operational performance synergistically.
3.0 Research plan
3.1 Research design
The study employed a qualitative research design with the survey as a data collection tool. The study also relied on a meta-analysis of previous studies on the same topic—the survey was composed of structured questionnaires which were open and closed-ended.
3.2 Data collection
This study’s preliminary primary data collection took place in September-October 2021 using an online questionnaire created with Google Forms. Two potential sources of primary data for this study were identified. (1) researchers specializing in sustainable Lean Operations, particularly in digital, and (2) industry experts directly involved in the digitization and implementation of various aspects of travel, logistics, and supply chains. The selected participants are mid to senior managers, authors of white papers, and digital and airline professionals.
3.3 Data analysis
The study employed questionnaires to collect data from respondents; these questionnaires were designed and scored using a five-point Likert scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to evaluate the data collected in the respondents. First, the dependability and rationality of the data collection techniques were validated using Cronbach’s alpha values calculated for each component. A descriptive analysis was then conducted to calculate the mean frequency of each statement in the questionnaire using a 5-point Likert scale.
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