Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

Fall 10-27-2004

Abstract

Organizations that are successful and competitive long-term have learned to efficiently utilize their resources, such as money, people, facilities, and time. Over the last half-century, there have been a variety of theories and techniques put forth on how to do this. One recent theory applied in the aerospace industry is Lean Management (LM), which emphasizes a customer focus and a rigorous elimination of activities that do not add value from the customer’s perspective. LM has not, until now, been evaluated for small, nonprofit, one-off production organizations (NOPOs). Previous research on LM focused on for-profit companies and large-scale production organizations, producing relatively similar products repetitively (e.g. automobiles, commercial satellites, aircraft, and launch vehicles). One-off production organizations typically create one-of-a-kind products. The purpose of this research is to examine the applicability of LM to a NOPO. LM will improve resource utilization and thereby competitiveness, as well as exploring a new area of knowledge and research. The research methodology consists of conducting case studies, formal and informal interviews, observation and analysis in order to assess whether and how LM may be beneficial. The research focuses on one particular NOPO, BioServe Space Technologies (BST): a nonprofit, payload development organization. Additional NOPOs were interviewed in order to draw more generalized conclusions about LM benefits. The research demonstrates that LM is applicable to NOPOs, thus providing a tool to improve efficiency and competitiveness. Results from this research are guidelines for payload development organizations to implement LM, and highlighting potential LM weaknesses. A major conclusion is that LM needs some minor modifications to be applicable and useful to NOPOs, particularly in terms of value stream mapping. The LM implementation roadmap developed for NOPOs introduces customized metrics, as well as including standard LM ideas. The metrics address efficiency; customer and stakeholder satisfaction; research value; and employee education. LM will improve resource utilization, while retaining the NOPO's hallmarks of adaptability and flexibility.

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