Conference article

How Organisations can Apply Lean Principles on Service Production

Klara Palmberg
Luleå University of Technology/PA Consulting Group, Sweden

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Published in: 10th QMOD Conference. Quality Management and Organiqatinal Development. Our Dreams of Excellence; 18-20 June; 2007 in Helsingborg; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 26:85, p.

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Published: 2008-02-15


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


Service has become an increasingly important differentiator in the competition for customer satisfaction and market shares. Even traditionally production oriented companies; such as car manufacturers; are to a large extent selling service and experience rather than just the car as a piece of metal and mechanics. As customers we expect both products and services to be a combination of the flexibility of customization to get exactly what we want and the efficiency that enables delivery when we want it and to a cost that we are ready to pay.

The development of production in manufacturing companies during the last century has been an evolution from the flexibility and customization of the craftsman to the efficiency of the mass production. The paradox of combining flexibility and efficiency has been overcome by frontline manufacturing companies; such as Toyota; in the concept of lean production.

The majority of organisations delivering services are using approaches from the era of mass production when trying to create better results and many of them would most likely benefit from a shift of paradigm. The more modern manufacturing logic of lean production presents an opportunity for service operations to keep the characteristic of flexibility while becoming more efficient and improve performance. Yet there are differences between the characteristics of manufacturing and services that call for caution. One invitation to this type of research is expressed by (Johnston; 2005) that states that researchers should combine the area of operations management and the service arena to answer questions of quality; productivity and efficiency


Lean production; Production-line approaches; Service Management; Lean services


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