The industrial machinery and equipment market is all about machines – designing, making, modifying, selling, and using them. But behind these machines, such as the automobiles we see on the road, are the machines that made the parts that became the automobile…and behind those machines sits an even bigger machine.
I borrowed the title of this post from the book by the same name, written by Womack, Jones, and Roos, describing the biggest and most thorough study on the future of the automobile ever undertaken.
So, what is the machine that changed the world?
The automobile could be considered the most instrumental and therefore important machine, and the automotive industry even more important – twice this century it has changed our fundamental ways of making things, how we work and what we buy, ultimately affecting how we think and live. Sales of automobiles are around 50 million units annually, and automobile manufacturing influences manufacturing in almost every industry on the planet, with almost every industry looking to mass produce items in order to reduce cost and increase profit. However, automobile manufacturing techniques have progressed little since the moving assembly line installed by Henry Ford circa 1900.
So, is the machine that changed the world the automobile? No.
Since 1900, we have seen mass production of the automobile grow from a craft industry to enormous proportions, but with little modernization.
We now live in an era seeing the demise of mass production and the development of a new production system – lean manufacturing. A system that has challenged the very soul of mass production, and shown that it is not a sustainable model. Lean manufacturing gives us the ability to make exactly what the customer wants while mass producing the items with significantly fewer resources.
The principles of lean can be applied to every industry, and adopted with significant benefits, but only when the organization realizes that it must change to survive! Lean manufacturing techniques were developed in the automobile industry, a subset of industrial machinery and equipment, and should fit any other subset of the industry easily.
The machine that changed the world is lean manufacturing.
Read the book, it is a good start to understanding where the world is going to be in the future and how to position yourself there – the overcapacity crisis that the world faces is nothing more than an oversupply of inefficient mass production capacity and an under-supply of competitive lean production capacity.
In my next blog, I will discuss how ERP can assist with creating a lean manufacturing environment.