Lean supply chain practices and supply chain responsiveness among Vegetable Oil processing firms in Kenya
To make lean process success, level of thinking needs to be changed in order to focus on management from optimizing separate technologies, assets and vertical department to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets and departments to customers. Eliminating whole along entire value steams, instead of at isolated points, creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital and less time to make products and services at far less cost and with fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems. The research adopted a cross sectional survey of all vegetable oil processing firm in Kenya, that provided quick, inexpensive, efficient and accurate means of assessing information about the population. The target population of the study covered all vegetable oil processing firms in Kenya. There were about 35 firms that were then dealing in the processing and refining of vegetable oils in Kenya. In this study, primary data was collected by use of structured and closed ended questionnaire. The questionnaires was send to supply chain managers or those in equivalent positions in the vegetable oil processing firms in Kenya by way of email, drop and pick later, by postage or by way of face to face interview where applicable. The study findings established that the lean supply chain practices used in vegetable oil processing firms in Kenya were demand management practices, waste management practices, standardization practices, behavioral practices, quality inspection activities and quality assurance activities; the firms that have responsive supply chain experience the advantage of improved lead time for innovative products life cycle, reduced costs/ increased revenue by optimizing inventory levels under demand uncertainty , create a win-win situation with suppliers by implementing quantity- flexible contacts that share risk among supply chain partners, save time and expense by understanding which supply chain strategies do not need expensive software for implementation and reduced costs by learning ways of dealing successfully with supply uncertainty and lean supply chain practices and supply chain responsiveness requires an information flow and policies from the market place to supply chain members in order to hedge inventory and available production capacity against uncertain demand.