Who Invented Lean Manufacturing?

The term lean manufacturing really got its start in the early 1990s in a book called The Machine that Changed the World, written by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Ross. They wrote about how different manufacturing systems are used throughout the world and really took the industrial revolution to a whole new level. 

The concepts that they discussed, and the concepts that lean manufacturing is based on, however, go back much further. The book looks specifically at the Toyota Production System, which is where many of the concepts that are used in lean manufacturing were formalized. Even before that, however, people have been working to reduce waste and improve efficiency in the way that work is done for countless generations. 

With all that being said, there is no way to say that any specific individual invented lean manufacturing. It is a culmination of the way that people have been working throughout history. As these concepts became more and more formalized, however, they could be combined in new and innovative ways, which helped to dramatically reduce the outcomes. 

In addition, having a formal system such as lean manufacturing allows a process that works well for one company to be shared across multiple industries worldwide. This is why manufacturing has seen such dramatic increases in efficiency over the last several decades. With many different people contributing ideas and concepts, everyone is able to benefit from what today is known as lean manufacturing. 


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