Category Archives: History

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

A Critical Look at Industry 4.0

Modern Man with BackgroundOne of the hottest buzzwords right now (at least in Germany) is Industry 4.0. However, it’s a bit fuzzy what Industry 4.0 is, exactly. In this post I would like to talk about Industry 4.0. This includes very little about all the promises of a wonderful future – you can read that elsewhere. Instead, I will try to give you the big picture. I will talk about how Industry 4.0 came into existence, why it is so popular, what the true current benefit of Industry 4.0 is, and why you should pay attention to clothes. Continue reading A Critical Look at Industry 4.0

230 Years of Interchangeable Parts – A Brief History

Bolt and Nut
It fits!

Today 230 years ago on July 8, 1785, Honoré Blanc demonstrated the first large scale interchangeability of complex mechanical parts in the courtyard of the Château de Vincennes by disassembling musket locks, mixing the parts, and assembling them again. While it took another 150 years for the idea to take hold firmly in industry, it all started here with 50 muskets. Time for a look back in history. Continue reading 230 Years of Interchangeable Parts – A Brief History

Twenty-five Years after Ohno – A Look Back

Taiichi Ohno
Taiichi Ohno, Father of the Toyota Production System

Twenty-five years ago today, on May 28, 1990, Taiichi Ohno passed away. While he was not the only person behind the Toyota Production System, he was its key driver and is considered the father of the Toyota Production System. To commemorate the anniversary, let’s have a look back at his life, and also at how lean changed after he passed away.

To produce only what is needed, when it is needed and in the amount needed. (Taiichi Ohno)

Continue reading Twenty-five Years after Ohno – A Look Back

Muda, Mura, Muri: The Three Evils of Manufacturing

Three Evils of Manufacturing
The three evils …

In its never-ending quest to improve its production, Toyota has identified the three evils of any manufacturing system: waste (muda), unevenness (mura), and overburden (muri). In this post I will explain the concepts behind these three banes of manufacturing. Continue reading Muda, Mura, Muri: The Three Evils of Manufacturing

More On Cuba’s Planned Economy: Cuban Industry

Hershey Factory Cuba
The state of the Cuban economy

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on the Cuban economy, focusing on commerce (See How a Planned Economy Can Screw Up an Entire Country – Analogy between Cuba’s Communist Economy and Push Systems). On the same visit I not only saw supermarkets, but I also had a look at industry. Unfortunately there are no visitors allowed in their government factories. Nevertheless, I was able to catch some glimpses of different industries. Continue reading More On Cuba’s Planned Economy: Cuban Industry

100th Anniversary of the Death of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the Father of Modern Scientific Management

Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor

It was exactly 100 years ago today that Frederick Winslow Taylor died. He is considered the father of modern scientific management, the first management consultant, president of the ASME, and the first management guru. He invented and patented the first modern tool steel, designed new golf clubs, and optimized the growing of grass. He could swear like few others, but he also won the US Open tennis championships.

His work was already controversial when he died, but nobody doubts the enormous legacy he has left for industry. Without his achievements, there would be no modern manufacturing. Continue reading 100th Anniversary of the Death of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the Father of Modern Scientific Management

The Seven Types of Waste (Muda) – Now with 24 More Types of Waste Absolutely Free!

Seven Trash Cans Labeled

One popular and well-known concept of the Toyota Production System is the elimination of waste, in Japanese also called muda (無駄). It is one of the three evils of manufacturing systems, the others being unevenness (mura, 斑) and overburden (muri, 無理). In this post I would like to go through the details of waste with you. This includes the traditional seven types of waste – of which I am a big fan. For completeness sake I also included a lot more types of waste I have come across in industry. However, you have to decide yourself if these additional wastes are not themselves a waste. Continue reading The Seven Types of Waste (Muda) – Now with 24 More Types of Waste Absolutely Free!

How a Planned Economy Can Screw Up an Entire Country – Analogy between Cuba’s Communist Economy and Push Systems

Cuban FlagOver Christmas I escaped the cold weather in Germany and relaxed on the warm beaches in Cuba. Of course, being a lean expert, I was also interested in the Cuban economy. As a communist economy (or more precisely, a socialist economy), it is based on centralized planning. In comparison, the capitalist system of the US (and most of the rest of the world) leaves most business decisions to individual entrepreneurs. This is somewhat similar to push and pull in manufacturing. Push systems also rely on centralized planning, while pull systems have their signal from inside the system to match the customer demand. As capitalism outperforms communism, pull usually outperforms push. Hence, in this post I would like to show you the shenanigans that happen in Cuba due to the effects of centralized planning. Warning: Lots of images ahead! Continue reading How a Planned Economy Can Screw Up an Entire Country – Analogy between Cuba’s Communist Economy and Push Systems