Applying lean methods to the automotive industry



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'Lean Manufacturing' is a production practice that aims to reduce shop floor inventory in a manufacturing firm. Its origins extending deep into Japanese history, manufacturing works on tight material control policies and aims to achieve as close to 'stockless production' and 'zero inventories' as possible. The goals of Lean Manufacturing or the seven zeroes (zero defects, setup time, breakdowns, handling, lead time and surging) hence all strive to achieve zero inventory by producing what is needed when needed, thereby eliminating storage costs and capital tied up in inventory. The history of manufacturing in America is explored and compared to that of far eastern societies. This thesis then introduces the development of JIT, Lean Manufacturing and their immediate vii effects on the world. Techniques are explored for implementing lean methods in an automobile manufacturing firm – whether (and how) an automobile manufacturer can bring down his costs using the same and what changes will need to be done to their existing manufacturing processes. Advantages, disadvantages and possible setbacks one may encounter while attempting to implement lean methods are also explored.