The History of Excellence page on Superfactory, and particularly the timeline on the page, has generated a lot of interest, comments, and submissions over the past few months. We have attempted to chronicle the major events in the history of manufacturing excellence, and in particular lean manufacturing, beginning with King Henry III of France watching the Venice Arsenal produce a complete galley ship every hour in 1574. Although you should always focus on the future, history provides lessons and perspective.
A week ago Lee Hales of Richard Muther & Associates sent me a copy of the "How We Improve! 100 Years of Industrial Management and Engineering" poster that his firm has created to celebrate the firm’s 50th year in business. For starters, a manufacturing consultancy that has been in business for 50 years is pretty impressive in its own right. But the poster is incredible… a graphical timeline of the past 100 years showing hundreds of events.
But the events are simply listed; they are tied together with colors and lines to show the evolution of trends and concepts. "Taylor-ism," "Ford-ism,", Toyota-ism," "Logistics,", and "Supply Chains" to name just a few. There are photos and descriptions of some of the key factories involved, such as Ford’s River Rouge and Highland Park, Midvale Steel, Colt Arms, and even Dell in North Carolina. Graphs show how underlying demographic data such as literacy, exports, the number of "free countries," and global nutrition changed over the same period of time. Additional boxes detail in a graphical manner how Dell’s assemble-to-order process works, and similarly UPS’ distribution system, and even how Bennetton matches dye production to seasonal demand.
The back side is a similar timeline devoted to how RMA’s tools, services, and publications have developed over the 50 year history of the company.