Total Quality Management

October 28, 2008

Lean Production System

Lean production system is the western term for Toyota Production System. This production philosophy is now widely used in auto industry around the world. This system has been modified everywhere in the auto industry, adapted to some extent on the local industrial situation or practices, however its core principles remain the same. This system is not only used in auto industry but also in other non-auto industries involved in assembling process.

In order to understand lean production system, it is important to understand it in its historical perspective first.  If we study the history of automobile industry, it can be separated in three eras, which can be termed as milestones of automobile industry. These milestones are:

  1. Invention of Automobile (1880)
  2. The Henry Ford’s Mass Production System (1910)
  3. The Toyota or Lean Production System (1933)

1. Invention of Automobile in 1880

Gotlib Daimler

Carl Benz

Auto-historians give credit of invention of auto vehicle to two inventors who were contemporaries and almost simultaneously invented the automobile.

Their names were Gotlib Daimler and Karl Benz. However, Carl Benz is generally given credit to develop world’s first automobile in 1885. Both of them were Germans and later their companies were merged, in 1926, to appear as one of the greatest names in automobile Industry, called Daimler Benze-AG. Other contemporaries were Wilhelm Maybach and Seigfried Marcus who were also known for developing automobile later during the same period.

Replica of the Benz Patent Motorwagen built in 1886

Replica of the Benz Patent Motorwagen built in 1886

2. Henry Ford’s Mass Production System

Henry Ford

picture2

Henry Ford with his famous Model T Car

In 1910 Henry Ford laid the foundation of first highly organized assembly line system of automobile manufacturing. He organized all the elements of a manufacturing system-people, machines, tooling, and products– and arranged them in a continuous system called conveyor belt system.

Ford was so incredibly successful that he quickly became one of the world’s richest men and put the world on wheels.

Ford Motor Company also assembled  aircraft using mass production techniques.  This mass production success was known as “A-Bomber an Hour” production during WWII when Henry Ford, upon request from US government, produced bomber air crafts for USAF. Before Henry Ford’s take over, the same plant was producing only one bomber a day. (more…)

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