No name is more associated with American business organization success than that of Henry Ford.

Make that global business success. Even Taiichi Ohno of Toyota, the automaker that ranks as one of the biggest in the world, is said to have studied Ford’s techniques and methods to create the Japanese automaker’s universally praised manufacturing methods.

Henry Ford hated waste material. He drove himself – and his employees – to correct operational inefficiencies while besides creating better products.

Is information technology whatsoever wonder, then, that Ford is considered the “Father of Lean Manufacturing”?

Ford Founds Lean

The history of Lean manufacturing truly begins with Ford and his ground-breaking automobile manufacturing company in the early 20th
century. Students of Lean history typically begin with the Ford manufacturing found in Highland Park, Mich., in 1913.

Model T

The Ford Model T

It was there that Ford manufactured the Model T. His focus was not on organizational structure. His focus was on making the best product possible.

To do and so, he relentlessly pursued methods that eliminated waste matter and helped employees work more efficiently. He did not focus on making people piece of work harder. He wanted people, and his company equally a whole, to piece of work smarter.

He had an beauteous ability to come across the “flow” associated with a procedure. In Ford’s instance, that menstruation started with raw materials and ended with a customer driving away in a new car.

His integration of individual parts, human effort and moving conveyance marked the showtime fourth dimension that Lean principles were put into practice. Essentially, Ford invented them.

Ford’southward Innovations

Here are some areas where Ford established the baseline for the Lean and Six Sigma techniques to come.

Standardization –
Ford’due south production line did not provide for variation or deviation from the best practise. The employee who assembled the bumper for the car did so the aforementioned manner, every day, one time Ford determined the best way to do it.

Loftier Wages –
The bumper-assembly employee and everyone else also received good pay. Considering his techniques resulted in such great profits, Ford paid his workers well, quadrupling their wages over 20 years.

Wasted Movement –
Ford once wrote that farmers wasted 95% of their fourth dimension on unproductive activities. He lamented that everything was done by hand and “seldom is a thought given to logical arrangement.” Ford gave many thoughts to logical arrangement. His factories were designed so that workers could accomplish their given tasks with the fewest steps and movements.

Wasted Materials –
Automobile manufacturing results in unused material. Ford found uses for those products that did non go into his cars. For example:

  • Distilling wasted wood into chemicals that was used for, amid other products, charcoal
  • Blast furnace slag was converted into road paving material
  • Cooking of coal produced sulfur that was sold for use in fertilizers

Welding –
Ford welded smaller parts together into a whole, rather than having large cast parts that required machine shaving.

Just-in-Time Manufacturing –
Ford knew the importance of non creating large amounts of inventory and managed his supply chain to have enough materials on-hand to manufacturing his cars based on need.

Customer service –
Amongst other areas that served the client, Ford smoothed out the commitment service so that cars consistently arrived on time as scheduled to the client.

The list goes on and on. Unabridged books have been written on topic. Perhaps the best is the one Ford wrote himself.


While Ford created techniques that led to Lean methodologies, the one expanse he did not account for was variation. His processes, while revolutionary, did not allow for the types of variations that modernistic businesses require.

In short, he was great at making a Model T. But when people wanted something other than a Model T, at that place were challenges.

However, the Toyota Production Organization (TPS) took Ford’south process a step further. Ohno and other company executives built upon Ford’s ideas and made changes to the manufacturing process that allowed for more variation in the workflow without creating untenable inefficiencies.

Much of it involved technical changes in how machines worked, the progression through the workflow and communication between unlike procedure teams.

Simply, in short, they constitute a mode to make high quality, low cost products that met the changing desires of the client.

How Taiichi Ohno’s trip to Piggly Wiggly Supermarket Inverse the Earth of Lean Manufacturing

Lean and the Automobile Manufacture

Things at present accept come total circle. While Ford founded many of the principles used in Lean manufacturing, they were perfected in Nippon. Now, U.S. companies are learning from Half-dozen Sigma, which became a methodology pioneered in a non-automotive Japanese company, Motorola.

At Ford, 350 executives have received Six Sigma training and certification. More than than ten,000 employees accept been trained in the methodology. Motorcar parts maker Southland C.N.C. uses Half-dozen Sigma methods in its choices of machines to see manufacture’s specifications.

All of this has its roots with Henry Ford. Striking the best deals with suppliers. Managing inventory. Making improvements on the manufacturing plant floor that atomic number 82 to reduction of waste matter. Always keeping the terminal product – and the client – in mind.

While he didn’t think of everything, Ford idea of enough to completely alter the landscape of business concern forever – making it much, much amend.