When we talk about Lean or Lean Manufacturing, our mind straightly strikes to Toyota Production System (TPS). As the lean concept grew out from that in the middle of the 20th century. While the history of Lean goes back to the 18th century. Eli Whitney who given contribution and influence on shaping the lean by the concept of interchangeable parts.
If you want to know the history of lean. We go through from roots of lean a set of proven lean tools developed and implemented in the manufacturing process or business. In the history of lean, from time to time and as per industry needs. The concept of lean continuously revived and significantly improved by different dignitaries.
The Great Thinkers in The History of Lean
1. Eli Whitney
Eli Whitney’s two crucial inventions had significant impacts on the U.S. as a great Business Transformation in the 18th century and mid-19th century. Firstly, by the cotton gin transformation and secondly by promoting the concept of “interchangeable parts” in the manufacturing process.
Eli Whitney invented the idea of the cotton gin by inspiring with his observation from an incident. That is “a cat was attempting to pull a chicken through a garden fence.” Further in his, another perfect accomplishment or his contribution to lean transformation. The concept of the use of interchangeable parts significant transformation in the arms manufacturing process. And acted like removal of difficulty or impossibility in production of new parts for old equipment. By adopting the usage of identical parts; transformed the manufacturing industry. He contributed to a great extent in the victory of U.S. in the Civil war.
2. Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor has a great contribution in history of lean timeline. His ideas focused on individual workers and their method of performing work at the factory level. As a result of overseeing, Frederick W. Taylor brought up concepts of Standardized Work, Time Study, and Work Standards and transformed these concepts into “Scientific Management”.
While this was a debatable transform because Taylor shut one eye on the behavioral sciences of the work. Which welcomed numerous criticisms against him.
3. Frank Bunker Gilbreth
Frank Bunker Gilbreth and his wife Lillian Moller Gilbreth efficiently contributed to business transformation. The shape of Motion Study and Human Factors. His contribution is associated with Frederick Winslow Taylor’s concept while Taylor was primarily focused on reducing process time. Frank Gilbreth focused on making the process more improved by reducing the motions used in that which forego the development of continuous quality improvement.
The result of this concept leads to distinguished between waste and value-added activities; by this originated the doctrine of JIT and Lean Manufacturing i.e. “elimination of waste”. His major contribution in lean transformation was dividing all human work up into a number of individual motions, which he called Therbligs.
4. Henry Ford
In starting of the 20th century, Henry Ford made a huge contribution to lean history. He initiated the concept of Manufacturing Strategy; in which on the manufacturing site they used all the resources of the manufacturing system (i.e. people, machines, tooling, and products). In such an arranged manner with a sequence of constant motions in continuous flow and standardization that resulted into perfectly fitted components as mass production.
Ford grasped monumental success and become the world’s richest men and this method of Ford (i.e. Mass Production System) was adopted by the U.S.in world war-II. But as the world going to change, Ford’s system was unable to go with changing world and finally failed with the addition of a demand for new systems or models in the manufacturing process. Ford is considered by numerous individuals, to the principal expert of JIT and Lean Manufacturing.
Also See- What are the top 25 Lean tools?
5. William Edwards Deming
After World war-II, William Edwards Deming was eminent for his work in Japan. He advocated the Statistical Process Control and operational definitions. Deming upskills numerous persons (i.e. scholars, engineers & managers, etc.) in Statistical Process Control as part of the quality lean process.
Out of spearhead practices of Deming & others (Joseph Juran), improved performance of all processes with management techniques, specialized tools. And improved efforts directed to build TQM with continuous process improvement. This improves process was run for worthwhile purposes such as cost, quality & sustainability. He taught that if an organization adopts appropriate lean principles, then it can increase its quality along with reducing costs.
6. Sakichi Toyoda
Sakichi Toyoda established Toyoda Automation Loom Works. Which was an engineering manufacturing company where implemented an automatic power loom. It was the best example of the principle of Jidoka (autonomous automation). He was one of the earliest benefactors of success by the Toyota Production System. The concept of 5 Why’s of lean manufacturing to solve problems or to improve qualities or reduce cost, was also developed.
After a lapse of time, his son Kiichiro Toyoda taken ahead of the concept of Jidoka (which means the machine stops itself when a problem occurs). And flourished his ideology about the Just in Time concept in manufacturing. Kiichiro’s cousin i.e. Eiji Toyoda observed the mass production system which implemented by Ford.
This is too small and diversified for mass production and customer’s taste ignored in Ford’s Mass Production System by focusing on the amount of production rather than quality. Toyoda is famous for using low cost automation, combined with maintenance of machines, which shows the importance of history of Lean manufacturing.
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7. Taiichi Ohno
In post-war Japan, Taiichi Ohno was involved intensely in work on excess inventory of both work in progress and finished goods in the manufacturing business. To create a sound and modern concept, Toyota collaborates with Taiichi Ohno, and results of which they found, right-sizing machines for required quantity or volume, set up can produced faster in a qualitative way with low cost. His tests are driven to creating novel thoughts that got to be known as the “Toyota Production System”.
Later on, Taiichi Ohno comes in contact with Shigeo Shingo and worked together. Shigeo Shingo essential centered was set up and changeovers on machines within Toyota production line and worked intensely on diminishing requirements for tools, making improvements in machines, and standardizing tooling for speedy gadgets.
Taiichi Ohno’s work has contributed in today’s manufacturing mantra of maintaining quality, where the quality has always been a key component of lean transformation.
Developments of these concepts known as “Toyota Way”; including the Kanban system used on assembly lines and fine-tuned the concept of Kaizen is a process of incremental but steady improvements outlined to cut labor costs whereas boosting overall product quality. This framework of transformation is to a great extent utilized as the gold standard of the implementation of lean manufacturing in an organization.
The other Japanese producers embraced the advancements that toyota made, but none were as fruitful. In the 1980s American companies started to follow a few of the processes/concepts that originates Toyota and named such as Continuous Flow Manufacturing. World Class Manufacturing, and Stockless Production.
8. James Womack
James Womack integrated the concepts of past and future manufacturing process in the shape of the book- “The Machine That Changed The World”; i.e. comprises thinking of automotive producers of Japanese, American and other European countries and named it with a new phrase- “Lean Manufacturing”.
There are presently numerous publications clarifying the concepts and process of Lean Manufacturing and its lean tools in tremendous detail. James Womack‘s former collaborator John Krafcik (who was the originator of the phrase- Lean Manufacturing) upholds the process of automobile producers. And major credited given on concept and processes of Taiichi Ohno as in Toyota doing idealized Toyota Production System perfectly.
4 Best Lean Principles Books
Global Reader’s Click Below:
- A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance
- The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence: A Lean Leader’s Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence, Second Edition
- The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: A Quick Reference Guide to 100 Tools for Improving Quality and Speed
- The Lean Turnaround: How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company
India Reader’s Click below:
- Lean IT – Principles to Practice: Toyota Way to Create Value for the Customer & Wealth for IT Organization
- Creating a Lean R&D System: Lean Principles and Approaches for Pharmaceutical and Research-Based Organizations
- Lean Principles and Application in BPO
- The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development
Lean and Lean principles are continuing to spread across every country in the world, and leaders are also adopting different tools and principles that are beyond manufacturing to logistics and distribution, construction, healthcare, services, retail, etc. Moreover, lean consciousness and methods are beginning to take root among senior managers and leaders in various sectors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where did the concept of Lean originate?
When we talk about Lean or Lean Manufacturing, our mind straightly strikes to Toyota Production System (TPS) as the lean concept grew out from that in the middle of the 20th century. While the ancestry of Lean goes back to the 18th century; Eli Whitney who given contribution and influence on shaping the lean by the concept of interchangeable parts.
Who is the father of Lean?
Taiichi Ohno was involved intensely in work on excess inventory of both work in progress and finished goods in the manufacturing business. To create a sound and modern concept, Toyota collaborated with Taiichi Ohno, and results of which they found by right-sizing machines for required quantity or volume, set up can be produced faster in a qualitative way with low cost. His tests are driven to creating novel thoughts that got to be known as the “Toyota Production System”.
- The contributions of famous minds like Henry Ford, Taiichi Ohno, and Shigeo Shingo have left their mark on the history of lean.
- Just-in-time production and other lean concepts have revolutionised entire industries and raised productivity.
- Organisations can increase quality, streamline operations, and promote sustainable improvement by adopting lean thinking.