Title: A brownfield lean conversion: a case study of Opel Belgium

Authors: William M. Mothersell, Michael L. Moore, Mark Strolle

Addresses: Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504, USA. ' School of Labour and Industrial Relations, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA. ' UAW International Representative Special Assigned, UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, 200 Walker Street, Detroit, Michigan 48207, USA

Abstract: This case study examined the brownfield conversion from mass to lean production in a large automotive company. This case presents the critical factors in the lean transformation of the Opel Belgium (OB) plant, which is located in Antwerp approximately 30 miles from Brussels. This case offers a coherent transformational model for converting brownfield sites into lean production facilities. The model includes key technical components in the lean conversion, which includes changes in assembly layout, changes in takt time, jobs per hour as well as other technical elements. The change to lean also identifies and discusses culture and people system, change efforts instrumental to this change. Some of the key elements include creating a common vision for lean, establishing people systems in harmony with lean and parallel organisational structures.

Keywords: lean production; lean conversion; lean transformation; technical elements; people systems; brownfield conversion; mass-to-lean conversion; Opel Belgium; automobile industry; organisational culture; organisational structure; assembly layout; takt time.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPQM.2008.016563

International Journal of Productivity and Quality Management, 2008 Vol.3 No.2, pp.161 - 182

Available online: 11 Jan 2008 *

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