Implementation of Agile Manufacturing Principles in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMES)


1 Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK, LE11 3TU

2 Department of Engineering and the Built Environment, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK


Modern manufacturing is under ever increasing pressure to develop solutions for highly complex tasks. In order to maintain the business survival in a highly competitive environment, it is vital to obtain customer satisfaction, which requires developing products with shorter lifecycles and higher quality meanwhile to reduce the production costs. In order to achieve such objectives a paradigm has been developed called “agile manufacturing”. However according to the literature, this tool has been widely used within the large companies, there is still an ongoing research to prove their applicability in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). This paper aims to assess the feasibility of applying agile manufacturing principles within SMEs using 10 case studies in the UK and Malaysia. It contributes to theory by being able to identify the main barriers in the implementation of agile manufacturing by dividing them into three categories namely “lack of management skills”, “technological limitations” and “lack of workforce experience”. It also provides recommendations for each aforementioned issue so it could be used as guidelines for the industries to employ these methodologies.