History of Lean: Pre-20th century
The basic foundations of Lean can be traced to Benjamin Franklin’s works. In one of his publications, he touched on the importance of time and reducing cost. Furthermore, he gave some piece of advice on how people carry goods or inventory.
History of Lean: 20th century
Frederick Winslow Taylor in his 1911 publication, ‘Principles of Scientific Management’ introduced the concept of standardisation. He opined that superior methods should replace existing ones. Besides this, the new method should be the standard for the whole organisation. Taylor’s ideas birthed the beginning of process improvement.
History of Lean: 21st century
Lean manufacturing began with Henry Ford in the 1900s. He was the first person to truly integrate an entire production process. Ford lined up fabrication steps using the concepts of work and interchangeable parts. He called this ‘Flow’ production (1913). However, Ford’s system had a problem. His system could not produce variety of parts. All the Model-T chassis produced before 1926 were limited to one colour and specification.
In the 1930s, Kiichiro Toyoda, Taiichi Ohno, and others at Toyota started looking at Ford’s situation. While Ford was producing 8,000 vehicles per day, Toyota had produced just 2,500 vehicles in 13 years.
Toyota had plans to scale up production, but they didn’t have enough resources at that time. After a series of observations and thinking, people at Toyota came up with different concepts. Some of the concepts include:
- Toyota Production System (TPS)
- Just In Time (JIT)
- Pull concept
In 2008 Toyota became the world’s largest automotive manufacturer in terms of overall sales. Also, as of 2017, Toyota is the world’s second-largest auto manufacturer. Toyota’s continued success has paved way for further research on Lean manufacturing.