History of LEAN Manufacturing

Toyota, Ohno, and Taylor are just a few of the many luminaries who have shaped the history of lean principles and manufacturing resources. Learn about their contributions and accomplishments in lean process steps creating the lean production definition.

Toyota is the most common name we associate with lean principles when discussing it. It is important to note that lean was first introduced in Venice in the 1450s. Henry Ford was the first person to integrate the idea of lean into a manufacturing system. Eli Whitney, in 1799, proposed the idea of interchangeable parts. Henry Ford, who had experimented with interchanging and moving different parts in order to standardize work, proposed the flow of production in 1913. Ford’s system was limited in that it was not flexible and could only be applied to one specification.

Post-World War II

After World War II, Toyota took inspiration from Ford’s production flow concept and created the Toyota Production System in lean principles. This new system focuses on the whole process and not just the machines themselves.

Toyota’s Product System aims to reduce production costs, improve quality, and speed up throughput so customers can meet their changing needs. The Toyota lean principles are a system that includes the following lean process steps: the sight-sizing of machines taking into account the required volume of production; self-regulating features of machines so that the quality of manufactured products is increased; sequencing the machines according to the process; developing quick steps so that multiple parts can be manufactured in comparatively small volumes and strong communication about the requirements of each part between the steps of lean production definition resources.

Key Voices in The History Of Lean Manufacturing

With the ever-changing needs and times of the industry, the concept of lean management was constantly reintroduced. This industrial dynamism saw many lean manufacturing proponents make significant contributions to the field of lean management throughout its history.

Who are the Key Voices in The History Of Lean Manufacturing resources and production definition process steps?
Key Voices in The History Of Lean Manufacturing process steps and lean production definition resources

Frederick Taylor

Frederick Taylor, the father of scientific management, was a pioneer in studying the work practices and workers on the factory floor in the early 1890s. He developed concepts such as standardization of work and time studies as well as motion studies to improve efficiency in work processes, operations, and work methods. He ignored the behavioral aspects of his work, leading to many criticisms.

  • The Principles of Scientific Management: Provides the foundation for modern organization and decision theory. This is done by describing the dilemma: Workers fear that higher productivity will lead to fewer jobs. Taylor suggests that workers be encouraged to work and that the relationship between the worker, shareholder, and consumer is reframed. This is a great read for anyone who is interested in effective management practices.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford, a pioneer in manufacturing, created the manufacturing strategy in 1910. This involves all resources at the manufacturing site, including people, machines, tools, and equipment. It allows for continuous production. The first American to advocate waste reduction (LEAN) resources. This was how he made the Model T automobile and became the richest man on the planet.

Ford couldn’t change its work methods as the world changed and was unable to meet the market demand for new models, colors, and a variety of products. Finally, in the 1920s, the rise of product proliferation and labor unions took away Ford’s success. General Motors was the dominant automobile manufacturer by the 1930s.

Sakichi Toyoda

In 1918, Sakichi Toyoda founded the Toyoda spinning-weaving company. The Jidoka concept was the first to promote the Toyota Production system, which aims to eliminate all waste. Jidoka- “automation with a human touch” means to improve quality at the source. In 1896, he invented the automatic loom. This machine not only replaced manual labor but also allowed for the ability to make judgments about the machine. This system improved the efficiency and effectiveness of work by reducing product defects and the associated wasteful work practices. Jidoka is a method that allows for early detection and prompt stopping of machinery or processes upon detection. This helps to fix the problem immediately. It also assists in investigating the root cause of lean resources.

Kiichiro Toyota

Kiichiro Toyota, the founder and second president of Toyota Motor Corporation was his father. Sakichi Toyoda was his son. Later, in 1937, he founded Toyota Motor Corporation. Kiichiro Toyoda’s Jidoka concept was passed on to him and he developed his philosophy regarding just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing. To understand the flow of the assembly line concept, he visited the Ford plant in Michigan and proposed the Toyota Production System. This new system was designed to accurately size the machines according to their actual volume. It also introduced mistake proofing to ensure quality and correct sequencing of work.

Taichi Ohno

Taichi Ohno’s greatest achievement was to combine the Just-in-Time and Jidoka Systems. He was inspired by Ford’s 1953 methods and realized the future needs of consumers. He visited America in 1953 to learn more about them. He was inspired to create the kanban program. Even he practiced Dr. Edwards Deming’s method to ensure quality throughout the entire process, from design to after-sales service to consumers. Ohno, who combined this philosophy with the Kiirocho’s just-in-time concept and principle Kaizen, was able to practice it and bring it down to the floor. He is therefore the true architect of the Toyota Production System.

What are the Toyota lean principles?
The history of lean manufacturing process steps and lean production definition resources


Toyota’s Production System is based on several concepts. These include the pull system, elimination waste, Quick Die Changes (SMED), non-value added work, U-shaped cells, and one-piece flow. The pull method determines how the material flows between various lean process steps, according to the customer’s needs. Kanban is a system that signals to customers when tools are available for shipment.

The Toyota Production System also recognizes waste and declares that any item that is not of value to customers is waste. There are seven types of waste: inventory waste, overproduction, defects, waiting and motion, transportation, and handling, and inventory waste. This system is designed to identify and eliminate these wastes in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the production system.

SMED and U-shaped cell

The Quick Die Changes (Single-Minute Exchange of Dies) is another method that the company uses. This is done to improve production flow (Mura). The tools and switchovers should be completed in less than one minute at most (single-digit). The company experienced bottlenecks in the car body molding presses during the 1950s and 1960s. High changeover times were the root cause. This increased lot size and drove up production costs. Toyota introduced the SMED by using precision measurement devices. This is especially important for the transfer of heavy-weight dies onto large transfer stamping machines that produce the vehicle’s body.

The long production lines at Toyota were also wrapped with a U-shaped cell layout that allows for lean manufacturing. This allows workers to work on multiple machines simultaneously, increasing their efficiency. Toyota Production System (TPS), uses the one-piece flow. The Toyota Production System (TPS) produces one piece at a time, rather than mass production. Toyota places one piece between multiple workstations to reduce variation in cycle time and wait time. This would allow for optimum balance among different operations and reduce over-production.

  • The Toyota Way: Toyota produces the best-quality cars in the world using the least man-hours and the most inventory. It also uses half the floor space of its competitors. The Toyota Way is a book that explains the business principles and management philosophy that have helped Toyota achieve its worldwide reputation for quality, reliability, and dependability.

Shigeo Shigo

Dr. Shigeo Shingo, an industrialist engineer, and major consultant to Toyota, was instrumental in helping the company achieve lean manufacturing process steps. He was an expert in Kaizen. He understood the importance of lean manufacturing, which combines people with efficient and effective processes. He created the SMED system in 1960 with the goal of achieving zero quality defects.

The SMED System: A Revolution in Manufacturing.

A Revolution in Manufacturing is written by the industrial engineer who created SMED for Toyota Lean Principles. It provides an overview of the powerful just-in-time production tool. This book provides the most comprehensive and detailed information available on how to transform a manufacturing environment so that production can be increased and inventories are reduced. The theory and practice of SMED are discussed by the author. This book explains the basics of SMED and also demonstrates how to apply it.

Zero Quality: Source Inspection and The Poke-Yoke System

The only way to eliminate defects is to combine source inspection with mistake-proofing devices. Shigeo Shigo demonstrates how this proven method for reducing errors produces the highest quality products in a short time. Shingo gives 112 examples of poka-yoke development tools, with most of them costing less than $100. Shingo also talks about inspection systems, quality control circles, and the role of management in inspection.

Study of the Toyota Production System and Lean Production Definition

Here’s Dr. Shingo’s industrial engineering classic for why process-based improvements should be prioritized over operational ones in manufacturing. He discusses the fundamental mechanisms of TPS and then examines production as a functional network that consists of operations and processes. Next, he discusses the mechanism that makes JIT possible in any manufacturing facility.

Kaizen and The Art of Creative Thinking:

Dr. Shingo shares how he taught Toyota, and other Japanese companies, the art of solving problems. Many companies are trying to imitate Lean resources in the West, but few are able to do it. Why? Perhaps because the West doesn’t recognize the creative potential of workers in solving problems. Toyota encourages problem-solving in all its employees. Dr. Shingo will give you the tools.

James Womack

James P. Womack was the research director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Massachusetts. Dr. James P. Womack was a Little Rock, Arkansas native. He was born on July 27, 1948. To study the Japanese TPS system, he joined the MIT team. Dr. Womack flew with the team to Japan to see the Gemba.

They published The Machine That Changed the World in 1990. It was a book about the groundbreaking manufacturing methods developed by Toyota Motor Co. Dr. Womack and his colleagues discovered that Toyota Lean Principles TPS creates value for customers even when there are fewer resources. Additionally, Dr. Womack and the team believed that TPS could be applied to any company, in any industry, or in any country. They searched for a name that would reflect the universality of the philosophy. It was called “lean” and it stuck, creating lean process steps and lean production definition resources.

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