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on November 17, 2003
This book should be read by every business student. It is a perfect summary of 20th century's industrial development.
This book also provides a perfect insight to large scale academic programs and reseachs. Every student reading this book will gain much more than taking 2 or 3 courses in an MBA program. This book has much to offer than any of the books that I have read. It makes you think and then gives the answers and at the end it presents with you issues to think further.
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on February 21, 2000
I read this book while working for a major software firm--it was fascinating to me that Toyota could update their automobiles faster than we could bring out a new operating system.
This study of the world automotive industry by a group of MIT academics reaches the radical conclusion that the much vaunted Mercedes technicians are actually a throwback to the pre-industrial age, while Toyota is far ahead in costs and quality by building the automobiles correctly the first time. The lesson that it cost more to fix it than to build it correctly should be applicable to a lot of industries--not just manufacturing. The description of the marketing information system that Toyota uses was very enlightening. They involve the entire company in generating marketing feedback. Even dealer sales staff spend time working on the new product teams. Trust me, very few high-tech firms methodically collect feedback from their customers, and none have a system this comprehensive.
This is not just a book about lean production--this is guidance in understanding how your business operates and delivering good products that your customers want.
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on April 24, 2003
The Machine That Changed the World; The Story of Lean Production
A great book that although becoming a little outdated portrays the ongoing trends in the automobile production industry in three major cultural areas.
The three areas are;the Asian lean production (Toyota) v.s. the American system,(mass production) v.s. the European craftsman system. On a larger scale it will and is affecting manufacturing everywhere.
Henry Ford was the founder of the American mass production system, and Ford was very successful adopting it to the aircraft and steel industries. American companies adopted this system and it is one of the main reasons for American pre-eminence in many industries worldwide. Toyota has become the founder of the Lean system of manufacturing. Most of the
early adherents to this system were other large Japanese companies, and responsible for the Japanese manufacturing miracle since the 1960's, as it was adapted from automotive to all manner of industries.
The book is well written and interesting even though it is based on an MIT study of global trends in the auto industry. I would like to see an update to this book. The one anomaly I see is the German Automobile industry. If Japan and Korea have some of the most efficient auto manufacturing plants in the world and
North America is becoming more competitive, what is happening in Europe comes as no surprise. Many European automakers have yet to fully embrace American mass production techniques and are now faced with the greater efficiencies of Lean
production. The book does not explain in my mind the success of the German Auto industry. It seems to be the one exception to the rule.
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on December 27, 2001
This book is a classic on the advantages of being lean - Product Design, Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management - the entire gamut from concept to delivery in the Automobile industry.
What Ford's mass production did to craft production and its profound effects on the developed economies in the first half of the last century is an old but interesting story. With the advent of Ford's manufacturing techniques, there was a consolidation in the Auto industry. Within a couple of decades the number of automobile manufacturers fell from over a hundred to less than twenty and the big three cornering over ninety percent of the market share. Detroit became the center of pilgrimage for the rest of the world trying to emulate and replicate this success story in other continents.
Silently, the Japanese led by Toyota were working on a different concept of putting the automobile in the hands of the customer, at better quality, lesser costs, shorter development times and with the ability to offer a wider choice. The statistics collected from these "lean systems" is mind boggling. The competitive advantage that Japan enjoyed over the American system was neither due to lower wages in Japan nor due to higher levels of automation as widely believed. It was primarily the lean machine that was conquering the mass machine.
This book is based on the research done in the 1980's and published around 1990. The authors while acclaiming lean manufacturing as the panacea for the ills of manufacturing systems globally had at the time of the research and the publication of this work, probably ignored the next major change that would sweep across continents. Cars ride on highways, but today's businesses are quickly shifting gear and using a super fast highway for collaborating and for managing their global presence. Thanks to the Internet, the economics of information is transforming the economics of things. Dell is probably a good example of the new business model that could not have been imagined in the 80's. The tearing down of artificial walls across countries and continents also happened in the last decade.
We are badly in need of a repeat research study of the kind done in this book, in the face of the new realities. Global companies run by global citizens serving a global market and using a global currency will probably happen sooner than we expect.
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on March 15, 2001
Lean production has its disciples, as well as its detractors. The future of automobile production, and general supply chain management is centred in lean production philosophies and management techniques.
This book provides for the initiated, as well as the practitioner, a complete account of the major issues and problems faced with the introduction and management of lean systems.
The Japanese, particularly Toyota, were the originators of this approach to manufacturing. The Japanese success has been closely followed throughout the world, with the Koreans modelling the technique, and US companies such as the GM Saturn closely resembling lean systems.
The manufacturing and retail supply chain management in automobiles, but also in every other sector of economic activity, is closely following lean systems. This book is a very useful and immediate account of what this important production development and technique exactly is.
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on November 10, 2002
This is the first book that I planned to read as a part of learning about lean, the other two books are "Lean thinking" and "Becoming Lean" , so far I could say that the "Machine that Changed the World" is a good benchmarking between craft, mass and lean producers. It mainly gives you an insight of the differences between lean and mass producers from the production, sales, marketing, customer relation and other dimensions. If you don't know about lean I really recommend you to start by reading his book because it will make you start to think in a lean way, if you know about lean and convinced about what it can do to you organization start with lean thinking and then go to "Becoming Lean".
This book is aimed at strategic level and as a key tool to convince old timers about the lean-mentality against the push-mentality.
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on December 12, 1998
In "The Machine That Changed the World", Womack, along with several other individuals, give an analysis of the Automobile Industry within global boundaries. This book was the summarization of a five year, five million dollar study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Analysis was provided for both foreign and domestic automobile manufacturers with an eye toward the future. This book spoke "globally" far earlier than it was hip to speak in such terms, analyzing such foreign automotive powers such as Toyota, with their Toyota Production System, perhaps the greatest example of Lean Manufacturing in the world. For anyone who would like to learn anything about the automobile industry in general, or even further, would like to learn about successful business practices, I highly recommend this text.
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on May 26, 2001
The book was written in 1990 and most of the research was done in the mid-80s. The author is full of ideas on how lean production will save and revolutionize the world auto industry, but I'm interested to find out what's happened since then. One thing I find most interesting is that the author is particularly charmed by Toyota's use of many platforms and their economic feasibility due to their lean production techniques. This was true in the late 80s and early 90s, but was completely done away with until their recent SUV explosion, for the very reason that it was cost ineffective and nobody was buying their unnecessarily diverse models. At any rate, a good book, especially for one who has never heard of lean production before (such as I). I would really enjoy another book that gets more technically specific.
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on January 4, 2012
For anyone learning about Lean, this book needs to be a part of your repertoire. It is a bit technical at times but has lots of solid background about how Lean processes are meant to work as taught by the men who coined the term "Lean" in the first place.
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on January 24, 1999
This book introduces quite a few concepts, but unfortunately all of the examples are from the auto industry. If the reader can overcome this, and think of how the information would apply to their own industry, the book is of great value. The author's view of the future of the auto industry is quite interesting. I personally believe most cars will be bought over the Net as people generally hate dealing with car dealerships.
Good book, but if you're truly interested in this subject read Lean Thinking instead (same authors, better examples although many are also auto industry based).
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