Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ford Production System: An Successful Adoption of Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing history- The Ford System
As we known, lean manufacturing, which also refers as Toyota Production System (TPS), is created at Toyota. However, the roots of TPS can be found in Henry Ford’s system of line assembly and manufacturing process. In the Ford system they manufactured automobiles in large quantities of standard designs, which made the system highly efficient, delivering a product with low cost.

Main idea of the Ford system is the standardized product, which lead to the standard processes. Training of workers became easily, and anyone can work in the Ford plant within no time. All workers have their own duty and only need to perform a specific small part of the full job like tightening a screw or oiling a part. Moving assembly line made it possible to manufacture in the way Ford expects, like workers had to adapt to the speed of the conveyer. This will remove the personal element from the production line. The full system was in a harmonization with the rhythm of the assembly line.

After learning from Ford system, Toyota identified the problem that standard products could not meet the all customer demands, and then generated the unique Toyota Production System (TPS). Instead of the Ford push system, Toyota created a unique pull system, which then became the backbone of lean manufacturing, to avoid overproduction and meet the diversified customer demands.
Lean’s fundamental principles developed by Toyota are universally accepted but commonly adapted to each organization or industry. One example of these transformations is Ford Motor Company, indicating the Ford Production System.

Ford Production System
In January 1995, Ford initiated Ford 2000 program, which was aim to develop and implement a new manufacturing system called the Ford Production System (FPS). According to Ford's website, "The vision of FPS is a lean, flexible and disciplined common production system, defined by a set of principles and processes, that employs groups of capable and empowered people, learning and working safely together, in the production and delivery of products that consistently exceed customers' expectations in quality, cost and time." By implementing FPS, Ford attempted to transform itself from mass production system to lean manufacturing system.

By utilizing policy deployment, visual management, process confirmation, and time and data management, FPS will deliver a more aligned and capable organization, which will be continually improving and ultimately building a better manufacturing environments in the future. The image below is the revised Manufacturing Umbrella.

The FPS Continuous Improvement Model is the foundation for all manufacturing operations. It is a ten step process that is aimed at continually improves processes through standardization and andon recognition. The model looks for creating stability to inputs, normalize processes, and seeking change (if necessary) for outputs. The ten FPS Continuous Improvement Model Processes are:
• Continuous Improvement Board
• Start+up Confirmation
• Results Process
• Support Process
• Time and Data Management
• Basic Administration
• Kaizen
• Standardized Work
• Star Points

Lean Manufacturing in Practice

Lean manufacturing aimed at bringing together people, material and mechanical resources at the right time to accomplish the job, while reducing cost and bring continuous improvement. It strived to eliminate seven kinds of waste including waste from over production, waste of waiting time, transportation waste, processing waste, inventory waste, waste of motion and waste from product defects.

Production Systems of The Future

By 2003, all the plants of Ford had adopted FPS in their operations. It was estimated that after the implementation of FPS, Ford had achieved savings to the tune of $500 million per year. The personnel at the plants also received web-based training while best practices were identified and shared between the plants. By mid-2003, Ford was in the process of standardizing manufacturing operations across all its plants globally. The company planned to implement standard operating procedures and uniform plant layouts.

“FPS is our blueprint for today and for the future,” said John Fleming, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. “It’s about bringing processes together. It’s about learning from each other. And it’s about having operating systems developed from best practices from around the world which are truly the best way that we know how to build vehicles.”

It turns out that FPS successfully helpd Ford to save money,however, since there is no statistical or system analysis in FPS,can FPS keeps serving accurately in removing waste and providing continuous improvement in the future? The sustainability of improvment of Ford, by adopting lean manufacturing, should take into consideration.

[2] Miller, Geoff, Janice Pawloski, and Charles Robert Standridge. "A case study of lean, sustainable manufacturing." Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management 3.1 (2010): 11-32.
[5] Zarbo, Richard J., and Rita D’Angelo. "The Henry Ford Production System Effective Reduction of Process Defects and Waste in Surgical Pathology." American journal of clinical pathology 128.6 (2007): 1015-1022.


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