How Lean Production Revolutionized the Global Car World


Author: James P. Womack, Daniel T Jones, Daniel Roos

Pages: 352

Year of Publish: 1990

Other books from Womack: Lean Thinking, Lean Solutions

Related books: The Goal: Process of continuous improvement, Lean thinking, Leaning toward

About the Author

James P. Womack was the director of the International Motor vehicle program at Massatussetus Institute of Technology. Graduated in political science from the University of Chicago and a Masters in Transportation system from Harward University.  
He got global attention after the publication of the book in 1990 leaving MIT and founded Lean Enterprise Institute. Getting a fund of over $5million for studying the production system worldwide and designing a system for improvement.


The machine that changed the world is a journey of automobiles. How it grew from Craft production to Mass production to Lean production. When the automobile was invented, it was meant to be only for the elite section. Customized and crafted for personal needs. Therefore, highly skilled laborers were required. Production cost per car did not decrease with an increase in volume. 
Then came the era of Henry Ford. In 1908, the first mass-production facility was established. His vision was to make the cars accessible for all. The introduction of the assembly lines has solved problems like lesser takt time, cycle time, and the use of cheap labor. Standardization increased leading to mass production. But, there there was a flaw. Since the focus was on production, the quality was getting compromised. 

This was the time of the birth of lean production. When Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda visited the Ford facility in 1950, they quickly understood that their product is not for mass production. They took back what was important to them. This led to the foundation of the Lean Principles. Unlike the "good to go approach" followed in Ford, Toyota's system focused on finding the flaw in the system preceding production. Leading to increasing quality and decreasing cost.

The final part of the book talks about lean supply chain management. How Toyota maintains healthy relations with their suppliers, dealers, and customers to have lifelong trust. In the case of mass production, where the manufacturers always adopt a push strategy increasing the burden on the entire supply chain, lean focuses on pulling strategy reducing the inventory in the entire supply chain pipeline.


In the beginning, I was thinking, why the title is a machine that changed the world when it talked only about the automobile production system?
 As I went along, I discovered that the book may be talking about only automobiles but its methods, principles and philosophies are generic enough to make every industry, every sector easily evolved its practice along with it. 
Be it Muda, total production management, root cause analysis, Kaizen, Gemba, five why's. The case of Toyota created an improved version of business where employees, employers, vendors & customers, even competitors can be a part of the win-win environment.

It was a great adventure to read this book. Everything is written in proper synchronization so readers will easily connect with the dots. I always find it interesting reading the books written based on past events that mold the present. I work in the IT sector where we talk about project management, agile, scrum. Seems like reading an essay without knowing the alphabets. 
My readers !!! everything you see at your workplace came from the Toyota factory.




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