Efficiency in Production
I recently came across a quote from a late 19th century businessman by the name of Fredrick Winslow Taylor. He told a group on a production line, “I have you for your strength and mechanical ability. We have other men paid for thinking.” Albeit, Mr. Taylor was offensive and inaccurate in his statement, because he thought differently, he changed the world in how people viewed manufacturing and efficiency. This was at a time before efficiency in production had received much attention. Although there was new technology for that time through the advancement of the industrial revolution, management styles hadn’t really changed. Through his “scientific management” he would often double production with significantly less labor.
Production Process in the 20th Century
Fast forward to the 20th century. Toyota started creating their new production process known as the Toyota Production System (TPS). In today’s manufacturing environment in the U.S., we refer to it as Lean Manufacturing. Through Kaizen events, (which refers to activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers), people that participate close to the manufacturing line are asked to participate because of their detailed knowledge of the process. They have great insight toward gaining efficiency, effectiveness, and reducing waste. Additionally, those who are not as familiar with the process are asked to contribute because they bring in a fresh perspective. Through everyone’s participation, we believe we can reduce waste in the process and increase efficiency.
Two Contrasting Views
It’s ironic to me that you can have two completely contrasting views; yet each has had such a significant influence on how we think of manufacturing (and I don’t believe it only applies to manufacturing.). Both were revolutionary for their time and both were new ways of thinking that have changed the world. In conclusion, my question is, “what are we missing?” At that time, they didn’t know what they didn’t know. Unless someone steps up and thinks differently, we will continue to follow the pattern of we have always done. One of the reasons Interstates exists is to pursue a better way. My challenge for us all is to keep pushing the envelope and innovating. Who knows, maybe someday Interstates will be known as the company that changed the world in the 21st century.
Keep leading the Interstates Way!
Jack Woelber, Interstates Control Systems, Inc. President