Lean Product Development in the Automotive Supplier Industry 2009-01-0116
Steadily increasing challenges to achieve a competitive position in the automotive supplier industry emphasize the importance of being successful in product development (PD). Much effort has been made to develop effective processes within the manufacturing environment, but PD may be the next focus area to increase the competitiveness in the future. The aim of this study is to discuss Norwegian automotive suppliers in term of lean PD, using the four cornerstones in the conceptual model by M. Kennedy described in the book “Product Development for the Lean Enterprise”. These are: entrepreneurial leadership, responsibility based planning & control, expert engineering workforce and set-based concurrent engineering . The study is performed by combining a questionnaire and interviews with 19 automotive suppliers in Norway. In summary the Norwegian automotive supplier industry is not lean in the sense of all the principles behind the conceptual model. It is important to note that there are some fundamental differences like company size, place in the value chain, culture, project size etc, to consider when comparing an OEM to relatively small suppliers.