Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) to the Technological University Dublin, 2011.


The theory behind lean philosophy is to create more value with less. Effective lean management enables organisations to exceed customer expectations while reducing costs. Despite the fact that numerous practices and approaches are used in the process of implementing lean philosophy and reducing waste within supply chain systems, little effort has been directed into assessing the leanness level of distribution and its impact on overall performance. Given the vital role of distribution units within supply chains, this research aims to develop a comprehensive lean assessment framework that integrates a selected set of statistical, analytical, and mathematical techniques in order to assess the ‘leanness’ level in the distribution business. Due to the limited number of published articles in the area of lean distribution, there are no clear definitions of the underlying factors and practices. Therefore, the primary phase of the proposed framework addresses the identification of lean distribution dimensional structure and practices. The other two phases of the framework discuss the development of a structured model for lean distribution and address the process to find a quantitative lean index for benchmarking lean implementation in distribution centres. Integrating the three phases provides the decision makers with an indicator of performance, subject to applying various lean practices. Incorporating the findings of a survey that sent to 700 distribution businesses in Ireland along with value stream mapping, modelling, simulation, and data envelopment analysis, has given the framework strength in the assessment of leanness. Research outcomes show that lean distribution consists of five key dimensions; workforce management, item replenishment, customers, transportation, and process quality. Lean practices associated with these dimensions are mainly focused on enhancing the communication channels with customers, simplifying the distribution networks structure, people participating in problem solving and a continuous improvement process, and increasing the reliability and efficiency of the distribution operations. The final output of the framework is two key leanness indices; one is set to measure the tactical leanness level, while the second index represents the leanness at the operational level. Both indices can effectively be used in evaluating the lean implementation process and conducting a benchmarking process based on the leanness level.