Lean manufacturing is the systematic elimination of waste from all aspects of an organization’s operations, where waste is viewed as any use or loss of resources that does not lead directly to creating the product or service a customer wants when they want it. In many industrial processes, such non-value added activity can comprise more than 90 percent of a factory’s total activity Lean manufacturing or lean production are reasonably new terms that can be traced to Jim Womack, Daniel Jones and Daniel Roos’ book, The Machine that changed the world . In the book, the authors examined the manufacturing activities exemplified by the Toyota Production System. Lean manufacturing is the systematic elimination of waste. As the name implies, lean is focused at cutting “fat” from production activities. It has also been successfully applied to administrative and engineering activities as well. Although lean manufacturing is a relatively new term, many of the tools used in lean can be traced back to Fredrick Taylor and the Gilbreaths at the turn of the 20th century. What Lean has done is to package some well-respected industrial/manufacturing engineering practices into a system that can work in virtually any environment. 2.0 Brief History
Many people and developments have been instrumental in shaping Lean. Key moments are described here. 1913
The first moving assembly line was built at Ford Motor Co. in Highland Park, Mich., USA. A chassis was pulled slowly across the factory floor. 1924
Sakichi Toyoda invented the world's first automatic loom, which could change shuttles without stopping operation. Years earlier he had invented a device that automatically stopped a loom if a thread broke, preventing waste. The concept of jidoka – automation with a human touch – was born. 1927
Kiichiro Toyoda, Sakichi’s son and the founder (and second president) of Toyota Motor Co., introduced a flow production method using a chain conveyor into the assembly line of a textile plant and later into the body production line at the car company, which was established in 1937. 1949
Taiichi Ohno, who later became an executive vice president at Toyota, was put in charge of a machining shop and experimented with setting up the equipment in various ways to produce needed items in a timely manner. After visits to Detroit, he created the basic framework for just-in-time and empowered production workers to stop the assembly line if there was a problem. 1950
Eiji Toyoda, Sakichi’s nephew, traveled to the United States to study Ford’s production methods and returned with ideas about how to redesign and innovate on Toyota’s processes. Eiji later became chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. 1956
Ohno, who with Eiji’s support became one of the chief architects of the Toyota Production System, visited U.S. auto plants and supermarkets, where he conceived the kanban idea of using visual controls. 1978
Ohno wrote the book, Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production. 1987
John Krafcik, a researcher in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP), proposes a label of “Lean” for the combination of methods pioneered at Toyota. A few years later, The Machine that Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production was published, the culmination of MIT’s five-year IMVP study. 1988
Ohno’s book was translated into English.
Lean is widely applied in manufacturing and transactional environments across many industries in private, public and government sectors. 3.0 What is Lean Manufacturing?
James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos coined the term “lean production” in their 1990 book The Machine that Changed the World to describe the manufacturing paradigm established by the Toyota Production System.6 In the 1950s, the Toyota Motor Company pioneered a collection of advanced manufacturing methods that aimed to minimize the resources it takes for a single product to flow through the...
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