In order for industrial firms to truly be Lean enterprises, the lessons from Lean manufacturing must be transferred both upstream and downstream to make the value flow continuously from raw materials and ideas into products customers want. In the upstream processes, market identification and product development (PD), more impact can be made on the final outcome of the value flow than can be in manufacturing or testing. In spite of the huge potential of PD, industry research indicates that for it is rarely executed optimally. A typical aerospace work package in the product development process is either idle or having non-value adding work performed on it 77% of the time (McManus 2004). Thus, PD is ripe for the implementation of Lean, but with its long batch times, uncertain processes, iterations, intangible products, and non-linear flow, PD seems to be too far removed from manufacturing for Lean to apply. In order to understand how Lean can help improve PD, many areas must be explored.
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