An Empirical Research on Lean Production Awareness: The Sample of Gaziantep

Abstract

The goal of lean production is to save costs, produce products in various quantities, and cancel out all kinds of wastes. The lean production system, developed as an alternative to the western style production system, also takes place in the literature as an alternative application of traditional production systems. In this context, the main purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility and awareness of the lean production concept, which is widely accepted and applied in various sectors especially in developed countries, in Turkey. Within the framework of this purpose, the barriers that businesses face in lean production awareness and lean production practices have been measured on the sample of textile companies operating in Gaziantep province. Within the scope of the study, questionnaires were sent to 150 textile companies and 52 responses were received. As a result of the analysis, it was found out that most of the enterprises are not fully informed about lean production and their awareness of this production approach is at a medium level. Besides, it was determined that lean production practices differ according to the scale and capital structures of enterprises and market structures in which they operate.

Introduction

Lean thinking is a widely accepted approach in the form of the Toyota production system (Schiele and McCue 2011). This approach has been a popular research area due to the success of Toyota and other lean organizations (Hozak and Olsen 2015).

Toyota Production System is Toyota’s unique production approach (Liker 2004). There are seven widely accepted wastes in this production system as defects, overproduction, waiting, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra-processing (Hines and Rich 1997; Melton 2005; Pereira 2009; Rahman, Sharif, Esa 2013). When the literature is analyzed, it is seen that an eighth muda has been added to these seven wastes in time. Businesses should be aware that their most important assets are employees. For this purpose, lean practitioners also added another waste as “unused talents”. This waste occurs when businesses do not take full advantage of their employees’ talents and abilities (Pereira 2009; Alkunsol, Sharabati, Al-Salhi, El-Tamimi 2019). Lean thinking is the powerful antidote to muda and defining its value shows the ways of realizing it with increasing efficiency when the best and most accurate sequence of steps that create value are taken without interruption when necessary (Womack and Jones 1996).

Lean is about the elimination of all kinds of waste by reducing stocks (Hodge, Ross, Joines, Thoney 2011). In this context, the lean transformation includes sorting out any activities that do not create value in the organization, reducing the number of production factors used, use of advanced technology equipment and skilled labor, prevention of mistakes before they occur based on the principle of doing the right thing at once. The lean transformation described as a “Lean Production System” in practice aims to achieve the highest efficiency with the least input by providing a high level of performance (Womack and Jones 1996).

Lean production can be defined as a philosophy, set of principles, and practices (Vienazindiene and Ciarniene 2013). With the simplest expression, lean production is waste-free production (Taj and Morosan 2011; Rahman et al. 2013; Yahya, Mohammad, Omar, Ramly, Atan 2019). In general, waste is defined as “anything that does not add value to the product but adds cost” (Chaudhar and Raut 2017). In other words, waste is defined as an unnecessary activity that does not add value to the customer (Worley and Doolen 2015).

Womack and Jones (1996) define the lean production as a philosophy of operation and production, which shortens the time between order points and product delivery, by eliminating waste from the product value flow (Vienazindiene and Ciarniene 2013). In a general sense, the lean production system is a system that aims to eliminate unnecessary processes, ensure the continuous flow of processes and use of resources to solve problems in an endless process (Sohal 1996).

Lean production focuses on the production of goods and services as quickly as possible and at a low cost (Rahman et al. 2013). At this point, lean production is preferred by businesses to reduce production costs and increase their ability to respond to changes in the market (Ross and Francis 2003). Therefore, the lean concept has many benefits for businesses. Some of these can be sorted as reduced time in the realization of the operations, increased customer satisfaction, reduction of stock amounts and installation times (Worley and Doolen 2015), increased process understanding, financial savings, less rework, reduced lead-time (Melton 2005).

Increased competition in today’s globally competitive environment led to the adoption of new production management strategies to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of many manufacturing companies (Bruce, Daly, Towers 2004; Nordin, Deros, Wahab 2010). Today, lean manufacturing has become the best practice in the production strategy and is widely accepted as a promise of competition (Demeter and Losonci 2013). Business competitiveness is the ability of a business to design, develop, produce, and deliver better goods and services than its competitors (Shee, VanGramberg, Foley 2010). The implementation of lean production is an effective way to increase the international competitiveness of production enterprises (Kariuki and Mburu 2013). Interest in lean production studies has increased as it increases the competitiveness of businesses (Sanchez and Perez 2001).

In various studies, it was concluded that lean manufacturing practices positively affect production performance (Wickramasinghe and Wickramasinghe 2017) and financial performance (Yang, Hong, Modi 2011). Therefore, it is thought that lean manufacturing practices will contribute positively to competitiveness with the increase in the performance of the enterprises and will contribute positively to their performances and competitive practices with the integration of textile companies to their activities.

Today, businesses operate in an environment of rapidly changing customer needs and increasing global competition. Enterprises should be able to produce high quality, highly variable products with fast and reliable delivery time, competitive price. Thus, it has become a new strategic goal for businesses, with rapid response and agility, high quality, and cost reduction. Lean production can help businesses develop in line with all these goals (Järvenpää and Lanz 2019). In addition to domestic companies in the global competitive market, businesses that want to achieve sustainable production competition should use integrated lean tools and techniques appropriate to their structures and care about lean operations (Kulkarni, Dhake, Raut, Narkhede 2014). The lean production system considered an excellent management tool by businesses and these techniques are handled in different ways (Nordin et al. 2010). Techniques such as 5S, Kanban, Kaizen, Poka-Yoke, Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED), Visual Control, Just in Time (JIT) Production, Total Productive Maintenance, Heijunka, Cellular Production, Value Flow Mapping, and Traction System are among the lean production techniques (Nordin et al. 2010; Chowdary and George 2011; Mehta, Mehta, Mehta 2012; Gershenson and Pavnaskar 2003; Melton 2005; Yahya et al. 2019).

Today, lean production has become a production method that many manufacturers must monitor and integrate into their systems (Wong, Wong, Ali 2009). This approach researched by successful businesses in developed countries and has been largely preferred in practice (Panizzolo, Garengo, Sharma, Gore, 2012). Therefore, lean production practices are preferred all around the world to eliminate waste and increase the efficiency of businesses. For instance, lean production implementation is investigated in different sectors such as the electronic industry (Doolen and Hacker 2005); the automotive industry (Jadhav, Mantha, Rane 2015), and the plastic industry (Nassereddine and Wehbe 2018). In addition, the “lean” concept is still relatively unheard of or not practiced in some parts of the world (Al-Najem, Dhakal, Labib, Bennett 2013). In recent years, interest in lean production has also increased in developing countries such as India. The lean production process is slow in India just like other developing countries. This is because people have worries about the change, the lack of awareness and education about lean concepts, and lean applications (Panizzolo et al. 2012). At this point, producers should be well aware of the concept to successfully implement lean production. Levels of awareness and knowledge regarding the lean production terms may vary among countries depending on cultural and country-specific factors. Based on this challenge, the literature examining lean awareness is summarized in Table 1.

Table 1 Lean production awareness literature summary

When the performance levels and operational activities of the enterprises are taken into consideration, it is seen that lean manufacturing systems are frequently used in practice, especially in developed countries, and provide advantages in this direction (Table 1). However, lean manufacturing practices are observed to be applied at different levels in various sectors and countries in the literature review (Aghayev, Garza-Reyes, Nadeem, Kumar, Kumar, Rocha-Lona, González-Aleu 2020; Al-Al-Najem, Garza-Reyes, Antony 2019a, b; Yahya et al. 2019; Bajjou and Chafi 2018; Garza-Reyes, Betsis, Kumar, Radwan Al-Shboul2018; Khaba and Bhar 2018; Salem, Musharavati, Hamouda, Al-Khalifa 2016; Garza-Reyes, Ates, Kumar2015; Al-Balushi Sohal, Singh, Al Hajri, Al Farsi, Al Abri 2014; Abduh and Roza 2006). In this framework, considering the growing and dynamic structure of Gaziantep province, the textile sector has been determined as the main body. Both the benefits of the Gaziantep textile industry to the country’s economy and the fact that it has a developing structure is a major factor in determining it as the main mass.

It is thought that this study will contribute to the application and related literature in terms of carrying out a limited or limited number of studies on this subject and increasing lean production awareness in line with the results obtained from the study. In this context, research hypotheses determined within the framework of the main purpose of the study were evaluated and the results were interpreted.

Methodology

In this section, information was provided about the purpose, hypothesis, method, and findings of the study to measure the lean production awareness of businesses and the barriers encountered in a lean production implementation.

Research Method and Sampling

The main purpose of the research is to learn the degree of lean production awareness of businesses. The questionnaire method was used as a data collection tool to realize this basic purpose. The study was carried out on textile companies operating in Gaziantep province while the economy of the province is dominated by the textile industry. The questionnaire to determine the lean production awareness of businesses was carried out between 22.11.2019–31.12.2019. In the study, the convenience sampling method was used to determine the participants to be included in the sample. The convenience sampling method allows the data to be collected easily, quicker, and economically from the main mass (Zikmund, Carr, Babin, Griffin 2013).

The model prepared by Yazicioglu and Erdogan (2014) was used while determining the sample mass within the scope of the study. In this context, the determined sample mass is 55 provided that ± 0.10 sampling error at the level of α = 0.05 significance level, p = 0.8 (the ratio of x observed in the main mass), q = 0.2 (the ratio of x not observed in the main mass). In this study, questionnaires were collected by using online and face-to-face survey methods; 52 questionnaires were included in the analysis and the conversion rate was calculated as 26%. When the minimum number of sample groups is considered, with the data obtained, it can be said that the sample mass can represent the main mass. The main mass is the total number of textile companies (200 companies) in Gaziantep Industry Zones.

Expressions in the questionnaire were determined as a result of the literature review. The first part of the questionnaire consists of questions to determine the demographic characteristics of the participants. The second part of the questionnaire consists of the questions to test the variables determined within the scope of the study. In this context, a scale of 47 expressions was used to measure the lean production awareness of the businesses. This scale was developed by Al-Najem et al. 2013 and used in various studies (Garza-Reyes et al. 2015, 2018; Al-Najem et al. 2019a, b) to find the “lean readiness level”. The lean manufacturing system is difficult to implement in enterprises. For any changes in the enterprise to be accepted and successful, difficulties or obstacles must be defined and understood (Nordin et al. 2010). The implementation of the study (Nordin et al. 2010) carried out in a developing country (Malaysia) was determined as the descriptor of the obstacles encountered in the implementation of lean production, and these questions were asked.

The respondents completed questionnaire items with a 5‐point Likert scale (1 = Strongly Disagree, 5 = Strongly Agree).

The collected data were analyzed through SPSS Windows 22.0 software package. The reliability of the scales was tested before the data is analyzed. While the reliability of the questions asked to measure the lean production awareness of the businesses is (α) 0.903, the α value of questions asked about the perspectives of the businesses on lean production is 0.899.

Cronbach Alpha is one of the most used reliability measurement units in social sciences (Bonett and Wright 2015); it takes values between 0 and 1 (Heo, Kim, Faith2015). There are different studies to be accepted among 0.70–0.95 of this value (Tavakol and Dennick 2011). Therefore, Cronbach Alpha values are above the acceptable lower limit of 0.70 (Sekaran 2003). This indicates that the scales of the study are reliable.

Based on the explanations made above, the accuracy of the hypotheses developed within the framework of the main purpose of the study was tested through ANOVA Test and their accuracy was tested. In this context, findings related to the hypotheses and hypotheses of the research are included. Based on the above explanations, the correctness of the hypotheses developed within the framework of the main purpose of the study was tested through the ANOVA test and their accuracy was tested. In this context, findings related to the hypotheses and hypotheses of the research are included.

Research Hypotheses

Scale structures, market shares, capital structures of businesses are dynamic. In the existing business structures, any change or application that may occur in the external environment may not be accepted in the enterprises, and difficulties may be experienced in the application. The implementation of lean manufacturing activities that form the scope of the study may differ from country to country, region to region, and from enterprise to enterprise. In this context, the research question was asked in the context of the research, based on the number of personnel that can be considered as a determinant in the demographic structure of the enterprises (scale structure), the market structures in which they operate, and whether there are differences in lean manufacturing practices of the enterprises. Accordingly, in order to test the research question, three basic hypotheses have been developed in the context of basic demographic variables and their accuracy has been tested. At this point the main purpose of the study is to identify the lean production awareness of the businesses. For this, answers to the following research question and research hypotheses were sought. Research Question;

Are the textile companies operating in Gaziantep ready to implement the lean system or what is the level of lean system awareness?

Hypothesis 1 There is a difference between lean production awareness according to the scale structures of the businesses.

Hypothesis 2 There is a difference between lean production awareness according to the capital structures of the businesses.

Hypothesis 3 There is a difference between lean production awareness according to the market structures of the businesses.

Research Findings

In this section of the study, the accuracy of hypotheses has been tested by including the characteristics of the research sample.

Properties of the Sample

Information on the demographic characteristics of the businesses surveyed given in Table 2.

Table 2 Demographic characteristics of businesses

When Table 2 is examined it is seen that the vast majority of businesses (59.6%) operate between “11–20 years”. It is also seen that 50% of the businesses have “250 and more” staff, the vast majority (59.6%) is operating in both the domestic and abroad markets, and 46.2% have both domestic and foreign capital. One of the basic factors to be measured in the study is whether businesses have knowledge about lean production. It is seen that 36.5% of the respondents do not have knowledge about lean production while 42.3% of them have “partial” knowledge. At this point, it is seen that businesses are not fully knowledgeable about lean production, and businesses that carry out lean production practices in their processes have a small proportion (36.5%).

Findings Related to Research Hypotheses

Lean production awareness levels of businesses have been determined before testing three basic hypotheses developed to search for answers to the research question. In this context, information on the lean production awareness of the businesses is provided in Table 3.

Table 3 Lean production awareness

When Table 3 is examined, in general, it is seen that the lean production awareness of the businesses (3.28) is above the mean value (3.00) since the questionnaire uses the 5‐degree Likert scale. While the process average has the highest average (3.49), this value is followed by customer relations (3.26), senior management and leadership (3.23), human resources (3.22), supplier relations (3.22), planning, and control (3.02), respectively.

When Table 4 is examined based on categories, it is seen that businesses apply the expression in the “process” category at the highest level (3.49). The most remarkable expression is “the workshop is divided into different workplaces and each region has a specific task” (4.00) and this expression is followed by “machinery operators and staff are included in the planned maintenance of the equipment. Thus maintenance of the machinery is carried out by regularly by skilled people” (3.77) and “production at each station is carried out according to the request from the next station” (3.66), respectively.

Table 4 Lean production practices according to the scale sizes of the businesses

In customer relations, “there is an awareness about which product customers value and what they are willing to pay for” expression (3.56) and “there is a built-in system for collecting customer complaints to prevent possible problems in the future” expression (3.33) draws attention. This is an indicator that businesses give importance to customer relations in lean production or general business strategies and can be accepted as a sign that businesses have awareness at this point.

It is seen that the businesses are above the mean value in the senior management and leadership category (3.23). “We place our employees where they can use their talents, skills, and experience.” (3.46) and “people have job safety and employees are regularly promoted to management positions.” (3.35) expressions draw attention. However, “senior management regularly visits the workplace to encourage and guide employees” (3.04) expression is above the mean value but has the lowest score.

When human resources are examined, “employees can perform different tasks” (3.40) received the highest value and it is followed by “employees are skilled enough to contribute to the solution of problems and they can work as a team” (3.35). The most outstanding expressions in this section are “employees have received quality training to improve their problem-solving skills and identify activities with no added value” (2.96) and “There are many awards, incentive programs, and annual bonuses” for employees who help improve processes and eliminate unnecessary steps. There may be further improvements in the processes since these values are below the mean value.

When the expressions of the participants are examined in the context of supplier relations, it is seen that they are above the mean value (3.22). The highest value in this category belongs to “Suppliers are willing to cooperate and committed to maintaining a long-term relationship” (3.58) expression and “Raw materials and purchased parts are not subject to examination since they are provided by quality suppliers” (2.71) is below the mean value.

In Planning and Control, while “Including a standard collection time, there are standard ways to accept raw materials and release end products” (3.17) is above the mean value, “Up-to-date graphs are created to show defect rates in the workshop, key performance indicators, progress, and next business activity” (2.71) are below the mean value.

Scale sizes can gain importance in terms of the realization of various applications in businesses. In this context, hypothesis number 1 was developed considering that scale sizes are among the determining factors in the lean production awareness of businesses. Hypothesis testing on whether there is a difference between lean production awareness according to the scale structures of the businesses are given in Table 4.

When Table 4 is examined, it is seen that lean production awareness differs according to the number of employees of businesses, and the results obtained are statistically significant (p < 0.05). In this context, the hypothesis number 1, which states “there is a difference between lean production awareness according to the scale structures of the businesses”, has been accepted. It is seen that businesses with 50–249 employees give more importance to learn production practices. In addition to this, when Table 5 is examined in detail, it is seen that the customer relations variable, which is among the categories of lean production awareness, has a significant difference. Therefore, it can be brought forward that the increase in the number of employees of businesses will directly affect lean production awareness and allow acceptance and implementation of lean production practices.

Table 5 Lean production practices according to the market structures of the businesses

When Table 6 is examined, it is seen that lean production awareness differs according to the market structure of businesses and the results obtained are statistically significant (p < 0.001). In this context, the hypothesis number 2, which states “there is a difference between lean production awareness according to the market structures of the businesses”, has been accepted. It is seen that businesses operate in both markets give more importance to learn production practices. It is seen that process, customer relations, and senior management and leadership variables, which are among the categories of lean production awareness, have a significant difference. This can be considered as an indication that the market where businesses operate is an important determinant in lean production awareness.

Table 6 Lean production practices according to the capital structures of the businesses

When the hypotheses are evaluated in general terms, it is determined that there is a difference according to the scale structures in which businesses operate. While the increase in the number of personnel of the enterprises determines the scale structures; accepting or not accepting lean manufacturing practices by size; It appears to be reflected as practice or not. Similarly, this situation is similar to the fact that businesses operate only in the domestic market, in the foreign market, or both markets. The determinant of this situation can be considered as a result of increased competition and differences in local and global markets. When lean manufacturing practices are evaluated according to the capital structures of the enterprises; it is also expected to differ from the local structure to foreign capital or foreign partnership capital. So much so that it can be evaluated as a result of the reflection of the lean practices in the businesses from the global markets to the local markets and the adoption of the activities integrated into the countries.

When Table 6 is examined, it is seen that lean production awareness differs according to the capital structure of businesses and the results obtained are statistically significant (p < 0.05). In this context, the hypothesis number 3, which states “there is a difference between lean production awareness according to the capital structures of the businesses”, has been accepted. When Table 6 is examined in detail, it is seen that businesses with both domestic and foreign capital give more importance to lean production practices. It is seen that process, customer relations, and senior management and leadership variables, which are among the categories of lean production awareness, have a significant difference. This can be considered as an indication that the capital structure of businesses is an important determinant in lean production awareness.

The questions in Table 7 were asked to identify the barriers faced by businesses, within the scope of the study, in lean production practices.

Table 7 Barriers for the implementation of lean production

When Table 7 is examined, it is seen that corporate culture (3.21) is the biggest barrier obstacle faced by businesses in lean production practices and this is followed by an attitude of business employees (3.10), national culture (3.04) and investment cost (3.02) and lack of fulfilling the commitments of senior management (3.02), respectively. While these criteria are above the mean value, other questions are below the mean value. When evaluated from this point of view, it can be said that the businesses operating in Gaziantep province face barriers in terms of corporate culture, the attitude of business employees towards lean production and national culture. Besides, it can be considered that there is resistance to lean production in terms of investment costs. When lean production awareness of businesses is evaluated according to the analysis, the answer to the question;

“Are the textile companies operating in Gaziantep ready to implement the lean system or what is the level of lean system awareness?” can be given as “Businesses have moderate knowledge or awareness of lean production and at the same time, when considering demographic questions, they are not fully informed about the subject”.

Result and Recommendations

In this study, applied research was carried out on textile companies operating in Gaziantep province to determine the lean production awareness of the businesses.

In the study, it is concluded that the vast majority of textile companies have partial knowledge about lean production and while only a small part of them has the full knowledge (21.2%). A 47-item questionnaire was provided to businesses to determine this situation and their lean production awareness measured. As a result of the analysis, it is concluded that the businesses apply lean production practices at a medium level. Thus, there is still space for the applicability of lean in the textile industry in Turkey. However, considering the demographic characteristics and the items on the scale; it can be thought that some businesses may be unaware that they have lean production practices while performing lean production practices.

When the study is evaluated in terms of determining hypotheses, it is seen that lean production practices of businesses differ according to scale, market, and capital structures. This is an indicator that any improvement that may occur in the number of employees, market, and capital structures can contribute positively to the lean production practices. When evaluated in terms of the established hypotheses, lean manufacturing practices of enterprises; it is observed that it differs according to scale, market, and capital structures. This is an indication that any improvement in the number of personnel, market structures, and capital structures of enterprises can positively contribute to lean manufacturing practices. When the lean manufacturing practices are evaluated according to the scale structures of the enterprises, it is thought that the increase in the number of personnel of the enterprises will directly affect the lean production awareness and enable the acceptance and implementation of lean manufacturing practices. When lean production awareness of businesses is evaluated according to their market and capital structures; it is concluded that there is a significant difference in process, customer relations, and senior management and leadership dimensions. This situation can be considered as an indication that the market and capital structures of the enterprises are an important determining factor in lean production awareness. In this context, it can be thought that businesses shape their market/determine their capital structure and determine lean production awareness in their relations with customers, managing the process and at the point of leadership and responsibility of senior management.

This study of the awareness in lean business practices in Turkey with the aim of this study to determine the feasibility of particular importance in terms of being a limited number of studies in Turkey sample. It is also important in terms of determining that they use lean manufacturing practices in practice, but that these practices are related to lean manufacturing. It is thought that the study will contribute to the literature to make suggestions from a specific sample to the main mass and provide lean production awareness under the leadership of the developing Gaziantep textile industry.

At the same time, the factors that affect the implementation of lean production by the enterprises were examined. As a result of the analysis, it was concluded that the corporate culture of the enterprises, the attitude of the employees towards lean production, the national culture, and the costs of investments constitute an obstacle in the implementation of lean production.

Also, the factors that affect the implementation of lean production by the businesses were examined. As a result of the analysis, it is concluded that corporate culture, the attitude of employees towards lean production, national culture, and investment costs constitute a barrier for lean production implementation.

As a result of the analysis, the following suggestions were presented to the business executives operating in the textile sector:

  • Training programs for lean production practices and increasing awareness should be designed.

  • Employee balance to encourage employees for lean production and providing lean production practices within the business should be developed and improved.

  • Much more importance to problem-solving techniques and teamwork can be given.

  • Total Quality Management practices and lean production practices can be integrated to provide improvements in business processes.

  • Feedback regarding the regulations made in the applications related to lean production should be provided.

  • Long term strategies should be developed to create a change in the corporate culture that covers lean production philosophy in the textile business.

  • It should be noticed that the investment costs should not be considered as a barrier for lean production while the costs can be recovered with the savings provided by lean practices.

Sampling size and study time are the main limitations of the proposed study. To overcome the limitations, areas for future work may include: (1) increase the distribution of the questionnaire (increasing the sample size) to participants in an expanded geographical area; (2) conduct the study periodically to evaluate the development of lean manufacturing and assess how it endures; (3) apply the questionnaire to the different sectors to compare the results and finally (4) investigate the effects of lean production on the competitiveness of textile clusters.

Key Questions

  1. 1.

    What is the relationship between lean manufacturing practices and strategies for manufacturing competitiveness?

  2. 2.

    What is the level of lean production awareness in the textile sector in Gaziantep?

  3. 3.

    Are there differences in lean production awareness, scale structures, markets and capital structures of the enterprises in the textile sector?

  4. 4.

    What are the obstacles encountered in lean manufacturing practices in the textile sector and at what level?

  5. 5.

    What is the place of lean manufacturing practices in enterprises’ competitiveness and international competition?

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The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and editor for their valuable comments and constructive criticism.

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Gelmez, E., Özceylan, E., Mete, S. et al. An Empirical Research on Lean Production Awareness: The Sample of Gaziantep. JGBC (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42943-020-00010-8

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Keywords

  • Lean production
  • Questionnaire
  • Awareness
  • Textile sector