Lean Production is the Future for Most Manufacturers
It is possible to move from Mass to Lean Production. It is neither fast nor easy but there is a path.
Often it takes a cataclysmic event to induce change. For example, mass production was enabled by the ability to standardize parts. Prior to this, a craftsman had to modify every part that went into an automobile. Lean production came into existence because Japan was so poor it could not afford to waste material.
When the Toyota/GM NUMMI plant was initially designed Toyota requested that 1% of the manufacturing floor be allocated for defects pulled off the line. GM requested 17%. They compromised at about 9%. If GM wasn’t so hubristic, they would’ve gone with 1% and had Toyota show them how to do it.
Lean Production replaces Mass Production for many reasons. Toyota’s reason was financial. The overall benefits are overwhelming. They include:
- significantly less inventory waste,
- build for a customer, not a phantom customer,
- above all constant defect eradication,
- constant quality checking,
- consequently, less floor space for defective pull-offs,
- improved culture,
- system-view is holistic rather than department by department, and
- ability to stress the assembly line, and
- so on.
Whether you are building a new plant or retrofitting an old plant, Lean Production is the future. Watch the video to see how Toyota can build one car at a time:
There is always a way of doing something better. Whereas, Mass Production was the most efficient way of producing something for 100 years it has now been replaced by Lean Production. I want to make it clear that it is not the best choice for every case. However, if you are a manufacturer, then you should at least explore Lean Production.