Skip to Main Content
Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that supply businesses in today's highly competitive business environment are normally under pressure to minimise waste and also to improve business performance. Pressure is often applied from shareholders wanting a return on their capital invested and also from customers demanding a prompt and professional service at low cost. SMEs are also often under resource constraints and may not have the necessary range of skills available to larger organisations to research and implement Continuous Improvement (CI) techniques. Past research has identified that there is a gap in the uptake of CI techniques from the many thousands of related academic research references that have been published over the last 20 years. SMEs researched were also found to encounter barriers that prevented uptake of CI technique such as limited resources, complexity of new technology, lack of management commitment, lack of adequate training, mismatch of problem definition with available tools and resistance to change. This paper identifies the tools that will assist the uptake of CI techniques to minimise waste and thereby reduce the barriers to adoption in manufacturing SMEs. The overall research project objective is to research how SMEs with limited time, money, and skill resources may gain from the potential benefits of a manufacturing process improvement tool. The methodology used in this paper is a combination of literature review of previous academic publications consisting of process based management systems, CI models and knowledge management systems and questionnaires used to obtain feedback from SMEs. Case studies and action research will in the future be used to validate the framework to further develop a process model for manufacturing SMEs.