Category Archives: History

All postst related to the history of lean, management, manufacturing, and any other topic covered in this blog.

Where Lean Went Wrong – A Historical Perspective

Clueless ManagerThe Toyota Production System is widely considered to be the best production system for any larger company. Achieving similar performance is the vision (or dream?) of many companies. Pretty much all of lean manufacturing is the attempt to copy the approach of Toyota in the hope of a similar stellar performance. Yet most lean transformations fall way short of the goal. In this blog post I would like to give some insights, from a historical perspective, on why lean so often fails. Continue reading Where Lean Went Wrong – A Historical Perspective

Material Flow in the Arsenal of Venice 1797

Whenever I am in Venice, I try to visit the Museo Storico Navale, near the entrance to the Arsenal of Venice. This museum has a set of beautiful detailed maps by Abbot Maffioletti showing the Arsenal of Venice in 1797, 1798, and “After Napoleon.” You can see in great detail the different steps needed to build and equip a sailing vessel. In this post, I will explain the material flow of the Arsenal of Venice, which was the largest industrial site in Europe and possibly in the world during its time.  Be warned, this post is rich in images. The material flow is partially based on the master thesis of my student Maren-Linn Janka. Continue reading Material Flow in the Arsenal of Venice 1797

The Arsenal of Venice

Land Gate of the Arsenal of Venice
Land gate of the Arsenal of Venice

The Arsenal of Venice was one of the the largest industrial sites in Europe in the 16th century. This was the hub of Venetian ship building, supporting the power of the Venetian republic. Both warships and merchant vessels were built there.

It is also known for the organization of its work. Sometimes it is listed as the world’s first assembly line, although in my view this may be a bit of a stretch. While they achieved a lot, there was also a lot of chaos. In this post I present you with a bit about the Arsenal in general, as well as some detailed maps by Abbot Maffioletti from 1797 and 1798. In my next post I will go into much more detail on the material flow based on these maps. Continue reading The Arsenal of Venice

Organize Your Production Sequence – 1: Project Shop

There are different ways to organize your shop floor. You surely know the flow shop and the job shop. There is also a project shop (with many variants of names). While the flow shop is in many cases the ultimate goal, each shop has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at them in more detail, starting with the project shop. Continue reading Organize Your Production Sequence – 1: Project Shop

150th Anniversary of the Birth of Sakichi Toyoda

Sakichi Toyoda
Sakichi Toyoda

Exactly 150 years ago, on February 14, 1867, Sakichi Toyoda (豊田 佐吉 Toyoda Sakichi)  was born. He is known in Japan as the King of Inventors (which is probably a bit of an exaggeration), father of the Japanese Industrial Revolution, and also the founder of the Toyota industrial empire. Time to take a look back in history on his life. Continue reading 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Sakichi Toyoda

Interview on the David Pakman Show on the Future of Manufacturing

david-pakman-show-logoRecently I had the exciting opportunity to be interviewed on the David Pakman Show on American TV, where I talked about the future of manufacturing, especially in America. Our subjects of discussion ranged from “bringing jobs back,” to the presidential election, to the carbon tax and many more current issues. Here’s the full video and also the transcript: Continue reading Interview on the David Pakman Show on the Future of Manufacturing

The History of Manufacturing – Part 4: Toyota and Lean

Toyota LogoMost of our prosperity and wealth is based on our ability to manufacture faster, better, and cheaper than ever before.To announce the publication of my first book Faster, Better, Cheaper” in the History of Manufacturing: From the Stone Age to Lean Manufacturing and Beyond here is the fourth and last  post of a series with a brief version of the History of Manufacturing. In this post I would like to talk about Toyota and its Toyota Production System, the archetype of lean Production, and also about computers and automation. Continue reading The History of Manufacturing – Part 4: Toyota and Lean

The History of Manufacturing – Part 3: Luddism to Henry Ford

Ford assembly line 1913Most of our prosperity and wealth is based on our ability to manufacture faster, better, and cheaper than ever before. To announce the publication of my first book Faster, Better, Cheaper” in the History of Manufacturing: From the Stone Age to Lean Manufacturing and Beyond here is the third of a four post series where  I would like to explore this story and tell you a brief version of the History of Manufacturing. In this third post I would like to talk about the social problems caused by the industrial revolution and its outburst of Luddism before moving on to the achievements of Henry Ford and his assembly line, but also how his firm was overtaken by GM. Continue reading The History of Manufacturing – Part 3: Luddism to Henry Ford