Ford was one of the leading car manufacturer in the 20th century. They brought out one of the greatest invention in the manufacture industry - assembly line. The concept of mass production allowed Ford to produce a large amount of goods in a really short time. This lead Ford to a huge boom in their business and made them the model for every other companies in the industry. Below is a brief introduction video about Ford and their production system:
But this brought out new questions: Although the massive production method can achieve a high manufacturing efficiency, it will lead to a really high inventory. Besides, the flexibility of the whole supply chain is reducing. It might be working for 50 years ago, when there wasn't too high demand of cars. But nowadays, since customers cares more about quality and time, the mass production is no longer a good way to help modern companies. For example, if demand increases for a unpopular model, this mass production model won't be able to quickly respond to these changes, and Ford will thus miss this business opportunity.
So if you were Ford, what would you do? Keep using mass production, or change to use Lean Production? Well, the choice is clear: "How can Ford become Toyota in four years?" asked by Jac Nasser, the former CEO of Ford.
However, the process wasn't always easy. Changing the production system sometimes means changing everything - supplier management, product development, manufacture procedure...What Jac decided to do was "...So he (Jac) changed the management metrics, purged the poorest managers according to the metrics, and experimented with selling cars on the web..." This didn't end up working out.
But luckily, Ford didn't give up trying. Below is the video about Ford's successful lean plant in Brazil:
Note that not only Ford, other big companies in the industry, for example GM and Chrysler, are also striving to apply lean concept to their manufacturing process. My question is: Although almost every company in the automotive industry desperately wants to apply lean to their production process, does it mean that lean is the one and only best solution for the automotive companies? For Ford, they put a lot of effort and spent a lot of money in order to change to lean production model. I was wondering if there's any way they could have adapted their original model instead of having to make drastic and costly changes?