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The Limits of "Lean"

Some of the results of continuous improvement in just-in-time manufacturing and rapid product development have not always been favorable. As the author points out, Japan is suffering from increased traffic due to JIT deliveries, a shortage of blue-collar workers, too many product variations, overly stressed suppliers, and a lack of money for new product development. This situation offers an opportunity to companies in the rest of the world to catch up to the Japanese, modify lean production and product development to create a more balanced approach, and seek competitive advantage in new areas, for example, in more flexible automation, new materials and technologies, innovative product features, and expansion into developing markets.

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