chapter  1
38 Pages

Introduction: Bringing Lean Back to the U.S.A.

ByJeffrey K. Liker

Everybody is doing it—becoming lean, that is. Or are they just talking about doing it? Toyota started it in Japan out of necessity. They did not have space, they did not have money to hold a lot of inventory, they could not afford to integrate vertically into all their parts businesses, and they needed to build vehicles for a relatively small market demanding a large variety of vehicles. Under those conditions, it was simply impractical to follow the lead of Henry Ford and make large volumes of black Model Ts. So Taichi Ohno had to innovate, and innovate he did—on the shop floor through trial and error, eventually discovering that building cars and parts in a one-piece flow in a leveled and mixed production sequence was vastly superior to large batch and queue production.