New research renders lean more efficient in Swedish industry

Jun 08, 2015 | Research/Cooperation

Christer Osterman’s research is about investigating factors and attitudes that have an impact on efforts to make processes in Swedish industry more efficient. On 9 June, he defends his Licentiate thesis “Towards a Lean Integration of Lean” at Mälardalen University (MDH).


In order to retain market shares and production companies in Sweden, it is important to keep up the pace with the global competition. The use of strategies that fall under the common label of lean and that can lead to more efficient development, higher production and less waste have therefore become ever more popular. Yet many attempts to implement lean fail, as this is a complicated process that requires time, resources and consideration of the human as well as technical preconditions.
– We live in a time when the demands on efficiency increase constantly. This means that we need to reconsider how we work and manufacture. My aim is to make the introduction of lean more efficient and simpler to understand within current contexts, by creating a framework to relate to during the process, says Christer Osterman.

Everything gets affected

In his Licentiate thesis, Christer Osterman compares four companies’ experiences of introducing lean in their modes of operation. In order to map possible strengths and weaknesses during the implementation, the process has been analyzed from different perspectives simultaneously, with, among other things, leadership, culture and tools being taken into account.
– In order to get an idea of how successful the introduction of lean is, it is important to understand where in the process a company is, considering all perspectives. On the basis of that analysis, it will then be possible to determine whether resources have been allocated for the right things or not, says Christer Osterman.

From knowledge to skills

Christer Osterman has worked within the industry during his entire career and has many years’ experience of developing production systems, including the introduction of lean. After a civil engineering exam from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, he was attracted to MDH out of curiosity, by the chance for a challenge, and by the opportunity to delve deeper into an important subject. In the future, he would like to continue developing as a researcher and to apply his results in a production process.
– We need to differentiate between knowledge about lean and skills within lean. Right now, I’m compiling knowledge, and that needs to be transformed into skills. You can only do that by solving real problems in authentic processes, says Christer Osterman.