250 Years of the Cromford Cotton Mill – Start of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution is arguably the most significant change in manufacturing history. Since it was a gradual process over almost a century, the exact start and end dates are hard to pin down. However, for me one of the key dates is the start of the first cotton mill in Britain, the Cromford Cotton Mill by Richard Arkwright. Construction of this mill started in 1771, and production began 1772, which is 250 years ago, hence time for me to write an anniversary post on the Cromford Cotton Mill.

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Evolution of Process Placement at Toyota – Part 1

When setting up a new production – or even when rearranging an existing production – one important decision is how to arrange your processes. I have written a lot on line layout, but this post will look at how the arrangement of lines evolved at Toyota. Some of their insights are now accepted wisdoms in lean, but many companies still struggle with it. This post also looks into the manning of machines, especially multi-machine handling. The blog post is based on the appendix in the Toyota Handbook from 1973.

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250 Years after the Birth of Eli Terry

Two hundred fifty years ago today, clockmaker Eli Terry was born on April 13, 1772 in (what is now) South Windsor, Connecticut, USA. He was one of the earliest industrialists using mass production with interchangeable parts in the USA, contemporary with the better-known muskets of Honoré Blanc in France (ca. 1785), and long before John Hancock Hall at the Harpers Ferry Armory (ca. 1824). His name is known mostly to nerds in manufacturing and horology, but I believe his achievements deserve recognition. Hence I will go back in history to look at his life.

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50 Years after the Death of Lillian Evelyn Gilbreth

Lillian Moller Gilbreth
Lillian Moller Gilbreth in 1921

Fifty years ago today, Lillian Evelyn Gilbreth (May 24, 1878 – January 2, 1972) passed away. She was an early pioneer in optimizing and streamlining work, which is especially remarkable in a time when women were supposed to be at home in the kitchen instead of pursuing science and engineering. I already wrote briefly about her, her husband, and Frederick Winslow Taylor in my post The Tale of Taylor and Gilbreth. I also have her portrait, among other key people in the history of manufacturing, hanging in my office. Let’s have a look at the life of this very remarkable and outstanding woman!

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A Brief History of Maintenance

At the suggestion of multiple readers, I would like to take a deeper look into maintenance, especially total productive maintenance (TPM). Maintaining your machines and tools is important for your business. In many places, maintenance seems to be more reactive: if it breaks, fix it. Often, a better approach would be proactive maintenance: maintain it so it doesn’t break in the first place. In this first post in this series of articles on maintenance, I would like to look a bit into the history of maintenance. Subsequent posts will look deeper into why we need to maintain our stuff and how to do it. The overarching theme is guided by total productive maintenance, but I won’t hesitate to give my critical opinion where necessary.

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Manufacturing Drives Prosperity

Manufacturing is one of the drivers of modern prosperity. Most manufactured goods become cheaper and cheaper over time, adjusted for inflation. Services, on the other hand, usually become more expensive over time. In this blog post I dive a bit deeper into these changes, using the USA consumer price index as an example.

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How NOT to Do a Lean Transformation – A Case Study of GM

Becoming lean is an aspiring goal for many companies. In my first post I showed you how Toyota does it … and why this may not work for you. In this second post of this series I will show you how NOT to do a lean transformation, and try to highlight common mistakes. In a subsequent post I would finally like to show you possible options you have for your lean transformation. Read on!

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