Bringing the Toyota Production System to the United States: A Personal Perspective
In 1984, the International Motor Vehicle Program at MIT began its now-famous five-year, five-mill ion-dollar study of the world auto industry, the findings of which were summarized in the best-seller, The Machine That Changed the World. The researchers concluded that the system of manufacturing pioneered by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota differed so fundamentally from mass production as to warrant recognition as a new kind of manufacturing. Not only was it different, it was decidedly better than mass production. As they put it: "Lean production ... is lean' because it uses less of everything compared with mass production—half the human effort in the factory, half the manufacturing space, half the investment in tools, half the engineering hours to develop a new product in half the time. Also, it requires keeping far less than half the needed inventory on site, results in many fewer defects, and produces a greater and ever growing variety of products."