State-of-the-art in lean design engineering: a literature review on white collar lean

Tim S. Baines, Howard Lightfoot, G.M. Williams, Richard Greenough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lean is usually associated with the ‘operations’ of a manufacturing enterprise; however, there is a growing awareness that these principles may be transferred readily to other functions and sectors. The application to knowledge-based activities such as engineering design is of particular relevance to UK plc. Hence, the purpose of this study has been to establish the state-of-the-art, in terms of the adoption of Lean in new product development, by carrying out a systematic review of the literature. The authors' findings confirm the view that Lean can be applied beneficially away from the factory; that an understanding and definition of value is key to success; that a set-based (or Toyota methodology) approach to design is favoured together with the strong leadership of a chief engineer; and that the successful implementation requires organization-wide changes to systems, practices, and behaviour. On this basis it is felt that this review paper provides a useful platform for further research in this topic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1539-1547
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2006


  • Lean
  • new product development
  • review
  • design


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