Lean Manufacturing

The Ford Motor Company and Lean Manufacturing

One of the first and most well known examples of lean manufacturing began with Henry Ford and his Ford Motor plant. Henry Ford was the pioneer of the assembly line production technique. Ford revolutionized the manufacturing industry by introducing mass production to America.

Ford increased the flow in his Model T factories by lining up all of the various steps into a process sequence. He also made use of specialist machines and gauges that were used both to fabricate and to assemble the different components that were going inside the vehicles. This mass production technique allowed for an enormous production increase.

Indeed, this was a great flow system. However, it was not the production technique that was the problem, it was the lack of variety that hurt their sales. The Model T was only made in one color, black – because black required the least amount of drying time. Sure, customers could take their new car and get it painted, but when competitors began to offer different cars, with different features and in different colors, Ford’s sales figures took a big hit. Also, to meet the demand of customers, third party companies created “drop-on” features that could be added to the vehicle’s body post production in order to change the aesthetics of the car.

But these mistakes by Ford had led the motor vehicle industry, and many other industries, to grow drastically by implementing their own assembly line production technique. Over time, fabrication plants got bigger and the machines that they housed began to multiply in both size and speed. The goal for the industrial world has been to reduce operating costs and lower production time. Even today, the power and benefits of lean manufacturing are evident, with more and more businesses striving to adapt their tools and principles to waste less and create more.

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