Towards the strategic adoption of Lean in aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) industry: an empirical study into the industry's Lean status

Peter Ayeni*, Peter Ball, Tim Baines

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Purpose - Despite many Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) organisations alluding their positive business performances to the adoption Lean initiatives, there is a paucity of direct literature that validates this assertion. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to study empirically via the use of an industry-wide survey to establish and extent of Lean adoption and to verify its suitability in mitigating prevalent MRO challenges. Design/methodology/approach - The empirical study contained in this paper is facilitated by an industry-wide survey to collect data from several firms across the MRO spectrum. The analysed responses from industry leaders, professionals and executives synthesised with existing literature was used in ascertaining the extent of Lean adoption within the operational framework of the industry. Findings - The empirical study helped in validating the suitability of Lean in MRO context. However, it was also observed that the focus of its application was skewed towards its production-orientated functions more than its service-orientated functions. Nonetheless, this paper presents results of the positive influence of Lean in MRO context. Research limitations/implications - This empirical study presented in this paper was carried out within a framework of key characteristics of operation. Although this approach is sufficient in assessing the industry's Lean status, further assessment can also be achieved within the context of relevant performance metrics which was not included in this paper. Practical implications - By exploring the industry's Lean status within the context of operational characteristics of operation, this study provides MRO practitioners with more awareness into some of the critical factors required for successful holistic Lean realisation. Social implications - The state-of-the-art of Lean within the aviation MRO context established through this research also contributes to the wider product-centric service environment by providing a platform that facilitates strategy development which ensures Lean success within this environment. Originality/value - Apart from validating the suitability of Lean in MRO contexts, by establishing the extent of Lean adoption within the context of the operational framework, this paper provides a clearer insight as to how successful Lean implementation can be achieved via a holistic implementation strategy balanced between the product-centric and service-centric aspects of the industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-61
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Technology Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note



  • best practice
  • continuous improvement
  • customer relations
  • decision making
  • Lean
  • value


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