How “Lean Manufacturing” was named? – research that changed world

It is interesting to see how some leaders are thinking. It is so motivating to follow their work, so inspiring to work and live different way. And it is so with John F. Krafcik, that named “Lean”. It was back in 1988. Check out brief review of his article.

This article covers:

  • Krafcik´s research
  • Level of technology
  • Management shape policies
  • Different production models
  • Span of workers
  • Inventory levels criteria
  • First “Lean” term mentioned
  • Key productivity influencers
  • Lean takeaways
  • Value stream transformation list – download
John F. Krafcik´s article

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Krafcik´s research

John F. Krafcik was a researcher, in the MIT International Motor Vehicle program is a founder of competitive Manufacturing Research a Houston based consulting firm. Currently is CEO of Wayamo, the autonomous driving company.

After several years of research of how different companies are managed, in different globe locations, Krafcik has written an article, that influenced word wide meaning about influences on plants productivity performance.

This 12 page article published in Sloan Management review in the Fall 1988 is called:

“Triumph of the Lean Production System”.

Let me share with you my most important takeaways.

Efficient Kaizen meeting? – this is how

this a excel charter to download preview

Here is a link to download project charter template for your usage, with the brief description of each section.

Level of technology criteria

Krafcik’s experience shows, that level of technology does not matter on productivity. There are companies, with high level performance, but almost no robotization. On the other hand, company, with high automatization, performed very poor. Research shows wide range of manufacturing performance and practice in Japan, North America, and Europe.

This fact overturned the myth, that quality and productivity are determined by plant location.

j.f. Krafcik

More critical link among plant performance is corporate parentage, and management philosophy. Japanese were more productive plants in average. But there were several North America plants exceeded Japanese levels.

Level of robotization does not affect productivity

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Management shape policies

So, how can management shape policies to yield high performance?

There are convincing evidences, that some management philosophies produce better results, than others.

Henry Ford, and his teammates were first person thinking differently, when they build first moving car assembly line, called Ford model. It was revolution compared custom made car production called craftsmen period. Toyota Production System is another model compared with first two.

Lean manufacturing example – training video

Download 15 Lean principles

This is what you will get, by downloading 15 principles. There are 2 slides with 15 lean principles listed in pdf. format. There is each principle brief description. You can use it as personal guideline, training material, or tool to embed Lean culture in your organization.

Page 1 – lean principles
page 2 – lean principles

To download guideline, click ont the link below:

Span of workers criteria

Span of workers control is the first comparison criteria. It is level of required knowledge for every worker required to perform the job. Span of workers control was low in Ford model, very high in Craftsmen plant, and somewhere in between in TPS plants.

What are Lean Six Sigma project types? – read here

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Different production models

Industrial engineers broke tasks down to their simplest elements in Ford model. By stripping out wasteful motions, and set job standards, one performed activity by one employee was done in about 30 second place. The same motion was repeated over and over for thousands of times in a day. By product of this standardization was incredible efficiency level.

3 types of production

Craftsmen-era worker spent about whole day building and engine. The span of worker control was greatest, and required learning was very slow, and many undiscovered inefficiencies.

Toyota was a great innovator. They took the mind of Fords system and hands philosophy of craftsmen approach.

John F. krafcik

Management did not think of workers as a replaceable cogs in the great production machine. Management trained workers in maintenance, record keeping, quality control and others, rather then delegating these tasks. Workers were organized in autonomous teams did not require white collars staffs. Every worker was trained to be kind of manufacturing engineer. This concept implemented in 19 50´s increased efficiency over Fords system.

How to calculate Takt Time and Cycle time? (+template) – read here

Project selection – calculator

I recommend you testing project idea on project calculator, I have developed based on my training experiences. It will help you to determine, how demanding leading project will be for you.

THis is how my calculator looks like

Selection tool downolad

You can download selection tool on the link below:

Inventory levels criteria

Ideal world inventory levels would be very low. It is because idle parts are not adding value to the product and tight up capital. Nevertheless modern companies choose to keep large amount of parts in their storage “just in case” something goes wrong, whatever reason it is. Other plants approach is Just in time.

Six Sigma v.s. Lean – what is the difference? – read here

Just in time was developed and used by Henry Ford, but improved, and named by Toyota. Ford´s idea was, that the most efficient way to produce cars is to minimize time elapse between beginning and completing product. Toyota adapted this concept, and build local network of suppliers integrated with assembly plants in continuous flow. Flexibility of building wide variety of products. Great example of this flexibility is fast changeovers of stamping dies within the minutes instead of hours.

There are other criteria, Krafciks is reviewing in his article:

Different production systems charactersitics – Krafcik article
Inventory level criteria
this a excel charter to download preview

Here is a link to download project charter template for your usage, with the brief description of each section.

First “Lean” term mentioned

Word “lean” is used for the first time in Krafcik´s article on the page 4, in the chapter named “Back to the future.

Krafcik does not want to refer to different models that Fordism and TPS are representing. He identifies “buffered” and “lean” production system instead.

Krafcik´s article pre-view

Most of Western productions were buffered with high inventories against any problem, that might possibly occur. Lean operations inventory level kept on minimum levels, problems quickly identified and resolved within the process. Absent worker was immediately exchanged by another trained colleague. On the other hand, lean system presents higher risk of total production stoppage. Risk is neutralized by experienced, well trained workforce.

Non-value added activities in the office – read here

Lean for the first time

Key productivity influencers

In following part of article Krafcik research proves several key productivity influences.

1st. There is strong correlation between quality and productivity. Productivity trends are tempting to improve with improving quality results. It is because of reduced rework effort, more attention to process control, less inspection. But this correlation is strongly affected by initial quality of product design.

Key productivity influencers

2nd. Corporate culture ranks with national culture as a factor correlates with in differences in plants performance levels. Some Western plants exceeding some Japanese plants in productivity and quality performance. There is relatively large performance spread in Europe, North Amerika, as well as in Japanese companies.

3rd. Management policy is strongly influencing productivity. Management oriented and implementing lean style, usually results in robust high productivity. The buffered approach shows more fragile productivity. Management policy has strong correlation with corporate culture.

4th. Automation and robotization has little effect on productivity performance. Research observations revealed, that technology implementation without significant investments in developing lean production, does not necessarily lead to high performance. One of the reasons is, that robotics were installed to improve quality, and not productivity.

So, these are highlights of John F. Krafcik´s article “Triumph of the Lean Production System”.

How to do brainstorming? – read here

Key productivity influencers

How to run first Six Sigma green belt project? -read here

Download Krafcik´s article

To download entire pdf article –click on the link below

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Lean takeaways

  • Follow methodology – 5 steps
  • Teach people on 8 wastes
  • Start changing culture – on continuous neverending improvements
  • Involve as much as team members in changes
  • Encourage your team members by heart
  • Do not be afraid of failures

How to do Value stream mapping? – read here

Download Value stream transformation list

This list will help you with changes. Steps in this list are following 5 lean principles.

Yes, it is little challenging, but, it is doable.

This is my Value Stream Improvement check list

There are 4 phases. Stabilize, Flow, Pull, and Level. Each phase have several steps and tools used. Understanding of current and future state is developed In the stabilize phase. Flow phase is mainly about machine and manpower capacities and balancing them. Pull phase is about scheduling products through value stream. Level phase helps with improvements standardization.

VST tool list – download for free

Do not forget to visit and subscribe my YouTube channel. I am uploading Six Sigma, Lean and Project oriented videos regurarly. So, stay tuned.

Yours sincerely Erik.

How Lean was named – training video

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