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Lean Manufacturing, Basics, Principles, Techniques

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Ford Motor Company is changing. The company is moving from a multinational competitor to a truly global competitor. Jacques Nasser has said in a recent Harvard Business Review article, "Today we are moving to a fourth stage of economic evolution with the globalization of capital, communications, economic policy, trade policy, human re­sources, marketing, advertising brands—you name it.... So I think there is no choice about globalization anymore.... So that's why we're in the process of reinventing Ford as a global organization with a single stra­tegic focus on consumers and shareholder value." Ford has recognized the need to change, the scope of the change, and the impact of the change. They also recognized that such a transformation does not hap­pen overnight or with a single effort. The Ford 2000 initiative was the start of the change process. In Ford Europe the initiative revealed itself as a series of reengineering effort in the manufacturing facilities. These reengineering efforts sought to implement the best characteristics of the Toyota Production System. Let's take an initial look at the project.


The Ford Production System (FPS) = Lean Manufacturing

"Lean manufacturing" was the label given by Womack and Jones in their book The Machine That Changed the World, published in 1988.

In January 1995, Ford launched its now world-renowned Ford 2000 initiative. This initiative combines a number of so called reengineering projects aimed at moving the company rapidly toward its key strategic goal to become the world's leading auto manufacturer (now changed to world's leading consumer-focused auto manufacturer).

To achieve this vision, we need to become and be recognized as the best-in-class, leading-edge manufacturer of automobiles. This means producing vehicles that customers want, when they want to buy them, at the price they want to pay, and at the highest possible level of quality achievable by any manufacturer.

One of these reengineering initiatives was the development and implementation of a new manufacturing system—the Ford Production System.

In many respects defining the Ford Production System as a reengi­neering initiative is somewhat ironic, particularly when you consider that Toyota's early attempts to become lean were based on many of the techniques that had been introduced by Henry Ford and are recounted in his book Today Tomorrow, first published in 1926.

The introduction of the Ford Production System is a global initia­tive. It is happening at every one of 150+ facilities worldwide, where resources have been put in place dedicated to learning the ways of lean and implementing them to produce the kinds of quality, productivity, and cost advantages we know that many of the Japanese manufactur­ers enjoy.

The Ford Production System vision is to have a lean, flexible, and disciplined common production system that is defined by a set of prin­ciples and processes that employs groups of capable and empowered people who are learning and working safely together to produce and deliver products that consistently exceed customer's expectations in quality, cost, and time.

So what is the Ford Production System, or FPS, as it is now more commonly known?

The Ford Production System is not another name for the manufac­turing function. It is a worldwide, cohesive system that encompasses and integrates our manufacturing processes and interrelated Ford Prod­uct Development System, Order-to-Delivery System, Supply and Management processes. Its purpose is to develop and institute best prac­tices in the methods we use to work with people, equipment, and mate­rials so our customers receive the greatest value. The Ford Production System recognizes our people as our greatest strength. Our aim is to produce results that are as good as our people.

To Be Continued


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