Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Lean Production,LeanThinking and Lean Solutions-A Report by Munish Alagh

Below I summarise three major works of James Womack, I start with a summary of the first few pages of the book-“The Machine that changed the world-How lean production revolutionalised the global car wars”.James.P. Womack, Daniel T Jones, Daniel Roos and Donna Sammons Carpenter, Simon and Schuster UK Ltd. 1990). I then summarise the Preface of the book  “Lean Solutions”James P.Womack and Daniel T Jones,Simon and Schuster UK Ltd, 2005 and main result of the book  Lean Thinking:Banish Waste and Create Wealth in your Corporation. James P.Womack and Daniel T.Jones New York:Simon and Schuster, 1996,Second Edition, 2003.
This is done in order to to show how Lean Thinking as a concept has evolved in the last twenty years.

Summary I-“ Foreword 2007 Why Toyota Won:A Tale of Two Business Systems(Womack, 1990 page vii, viii)
- In 1990 Toyota was half the size of General Motors and two-thirds the size of Ford. In 2007, Toyota has easily passed Ford and is surging past GM to become the largest and most consistently successful industrial enterprise in the world. When we read the story of Toyota, GM and Ford we read the story of not merely three giant firms in one giant industry, but two fundamentally different business systems, two ways of thinking about how humans work together to create value, mass-production was pioneered by General-Motors in the 1920’s as it passed Ford to become the world’s largest industrial enterprise.The system was then widely copied and used by enterprises in practically every industry all over the globe-including Ford and General Electric-for nearly seventy-five years.The other business system-lean production-was pioneered by Toyota in the twenty years after World War II and is now rapidly diffusing to every corner of the world.Let us consider mass versus lean production and show why lean is superior. There are five elements of lean production-designing product, co-ordinating supply chain, dealing with customer, producing the product, from order to delivery and managing the combined enterprise.
 Summary II-Before you begin this book.(Womack 1990 page 1, 2)
Let us start our story with 1984, the auto industries of North America and Europe were relying on the techniques of the mass-production system and these techniques were simply not competitive with a new set of ideas pioneered by the Japanese companies.The Western companies did not seem to be able to learn from their Japanese competitors, instead they were focusing their energies on erecting trade barriers and other competitive impediments.At this time a team of western authors conducted focused research of Japanese techniques which they named lean production compared with the older western mass production techniques.
Summary III of Sections ofChapter 1-The Industry of Industries in Transition(Womack 1990, pages 9-13)-After World War II, Eiji Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno at the Toyota Motor Company in Japan pioneered the concept of lean production.The rise of Japan to its current economic preeminence quickly followed, as other Japanese companies and industries copied this remarkable system.
Lean production (a term coined by researcher John Krafcik in the International Motor Vehicles Program at MIT) is ‘lean’ because it uses less of everything compared to mass production-half the human effort in the factory, half the manufacturing space, half the investment in tools, half the engineering hours to develop a new product in half the time. Also, it requires keeping far less than half the needed inventory on site, results in many fewer defects, and produces a greater and ever growing variety of products.
Perhaps the most striking difference between mass production and lean production lies in their ultimate objectives. Mass producers set a limited goal for themselves-‘good enough,’which translates into an acceptable number of defects, a maximum acceptable level of inventories, a narrow range of standardized products.To do better, they argue, would cost too much or exceed inherent human capabilities.
Lean producers, on the other hand, set their sights explicitly on perfection:continually declining costs, zero defects, zero inventories, and endless product variety.Of course, no lean producer has ever reached this promised land-and perhaps none ever will, but the endless quest for perfection continues to generate surprising twists.
(“Lean Solutions”
Summary IV -(“Lean Solutions” Preface -From Lean Production to Lean Solutions,Womack, 2005, pages 1-8)

(As we saw in the previous section) Toyota’s product development, supplier management, customer support, and manufacturing processes were collectively the “machine” that was changing the world. This conclusion naturally raised the question of how companies in any industry in any country could also achieve process brilliance.

For this five simple steps were proposed-(Womack, 2003)
Provide the value actually desired by customers.
Identify the value stream for each product
Line up the remaining steps in a continuous flow.
Let the customer pull value from the firm.
Finally, once value, the value stream, flow, and pull are established, start over from the beginning in an endless search for perfection, the happy situation of perfect value provided with zero waste.

Consumers Dilemna in the 21’st century
Consumption should be easier and more satisfying due to better, cheaper products.Instead it requires growing time and hassle to get all of our goods and services to work properly and work together. Stated another way, today’s consumers are often drowning in a sea of brilliant objects.And this seems very strange when we stop to consider that satisfying consumption-not just making brilliant products-is the whole point of lean production.

Today’s situation of more choices and more knowledge for the consumer, gained at the expense of more responsibility and more decision and management time, can be summed up very simply:
1)There are more and more consumption decisions for consumers to make.
2)The evolution of the production process, claims more of the consumer’s(unpaid) time and energy while blurring the boundary between consumption and production.
3)Consumers will have less useful time and energy in the day in the years ahead.
Rethinking Value in the 21’st century
We need a better way for consumers to obtain the goods and services they now want. This improved process is called-lean consumption.But this must be accompanied by a companion process, this is called lean provision, which comprises all of the steps required to deliver the desired value from producer to customer, often running through a number of organizations.

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