Ford Pursues Flexibility

We’re all familiar with the Toyota Production System, but not everyone knows that the Toyoda family learned a great deal from Henry Ford’s manufacturing systems. However, the post World War II Japanese economy was unable to assemble the large volume of parts that Ford’s system required. Instead, Toyota crafted a different production model that didn’t demand a large stockpile of components, paving the way for future innovations in manufacturing and supply chain innovation.

Today, Ford’s business strategy is leading to a new push for flexibility. According to an August 6th article in Reuters, increased efficiency and flexibility in production is part of Chief Executive Alan Mulally’s business strategy. “The ‘One Manufacturing’ system is designed to provide standard processes, greater flexibility and improved investment efficiency.”

I’ve written about letting the voice of the customer inform operations strategy choices, and Ford seems to be doing just that: “Plants that are flexible will be able to switch more quickly to manufacture vehicles, based on market demand for different models built in the same plant…at times these changes can be made week-by-week.” This is an excellent example of a company that is embracing agility as a way to increase profit.

© 2012 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Authors: Paige McKinney, Rick Pay