Lean manufacturing practices and supply chain performance of sugar manufacturing firms in western Kenya
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Introduction:Western Kenya is the largest producer of sugar in Kenya, supporting about 170,000 smallholder farming households and contributing about 80 percent of the total sugar produced in Kenya. This contributionis however threatened given that the sugar firms in that region are producing sub optimally with obsolete technology. Comparing to related sector, other firms in Kenya such as the tea manufacturing firms have implemented energy efficiency practices so as to manage energy wastage and reduce production costs. Were they to employ effective production methods, they could increase their production significantly. While that is the case, scholars have suggested that adoption of lean manufacturing practices is a panacea to quality addition and waste minimization. Perhaps what these firms need are lean practices.Purpose:This study interrogated the extent to which the firms have adopted lean manufacturing practices, just-in-time and total quality control and if they have, its effect on supply chain performance.Methodology:The study targeted and conducted a census on the 11 sugar manufacturing firms in the Western Kenya belt where the procurement managers, line managers,finance managers, production managers, production engineers, quality assurance officers and operations managers of each of the 11 firms (total 87) were targeted. The study employed a descriptive research design to collect quantitative data. Quantitative primary data was collected through questionnaires and analyzed using statistical package for social sciences.Findings:The findings of the study indicated that the just in time productionand total quality control are positively and significantly associated with supply chain performanceof the sugar manufacturing firms.Unique Contribution to Practice and Policy:The study recommended adoption of just in time production practices such as availing labor on demand in order to manage labor costs, availing resources on demand in order to manage wastage, production on demand in order to manage inventory costs, ordering raw materials from the suppliers only when there is demand for production from customers, having a simplified production design to ensure timely production and having multiple skilledworkers to ensure faster production. In addition, in order for the sugar manufacturing firms to increase supply chain performance, there is need to adopt total quality control practices such as having manageable defectprevention costs related to quality planning, putting in place manageable defect prevention costs related to investment in quality related information systems, having manageable appraisal costs related to test and inspection of purchased materials, havingmanageable appraisal costs related to quality audits, having controllable internal failure costs related to reworks and having manageable internal failure costs related to scrap.
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