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Toyota, Caterpillar, Intel and Ford: Lean Manufacturing Essay

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Lean Manufacturing: Toyota

Toyota’s manufacturing approach is the most prominent example of Lean since the company’s founder was the first to develop the system. The Toyota Production System (TPS) has embraced the philosophy of the “complete elimination of all waste imbuing all aspects of production in pursuit of the most efficient methods” (“Toyota Production System”). Prior to establishing the system, Toyota has worked on continuous improvements and ensuring that customers get their vehicles in the most efficient and the quickest way possible (“Toyota Production System”).

TPS incorporates the two Lean concepts: Jidoka and Just-in-Time. The former implies the elimination of defective products by stopping equipment as soon as an error occurs. The latter is associated with producing only what is needed within a continuous manufacturing flow.

It is essential to note that the TPS is a socio-technical system that pays a great deal of attention to respect for employees and teamwork (“Toyota Production System”). This means that Toyota’s Lean system is more than just an approach to manufacturing – it is a social philosophy in which the mutual trust between workers and personal growth is stimulated. Unlike other companies that are wary of any advancements, the TPS is welcoming of change because it encourages the company to improve and adapt.

The TPS incorporates a range a set of underlying principles, otherwise known as the Toyota Way. They include continuous improvement, respect for workers, long-term philosophy, producing the right results with the right processes, adding value, and organizational learning. The combination of the mentioned principles makes it possible for Toyota to reduce the errors in construction, reduce waste, and foster a positive environment in which workers are valued and supported.

Lean Manufacturing: Caterpillar

Caterpillar (CAT) is among the leading producers and constructors of mining machinery, natural gas and diesel engines, diesel-electric locomotives. It has also differentiated the business into producing travel accessories and footwear. The Caterpillar Production System (CPS) has been established for monitoring the quality of manufactured products, meet the established cost goals, retain staff, and reduce waste (“Continuous Product Improvement”). Based on the TPS framework, CPS also incorporates such concepts as Poka Yoke, pull production, continuous improvements, and numerous others. Importantly, CPS is implemented not only in factories but also at stages of product design and development, supply chain management, and purchasing.

The integration of CPS allowed the company to reach unprecedented results. Between 2004 and 2008, “Caterpillar capitalized on the economic boom,” with sales and revenues topping $51 billion, “exceeding the 2010 goal of $50 billion much ahead of schedule” (“Analyzing the Caterpillar Production System”). Even during the downturn of 2009-2010, CAT managed to reach its objectives through the implementation of CPS. In 2010, the company increased its revenues by 31% compared to 2009 and earned $42.59 billion while its profit per share was $4.15 in 2010 compared to $1.43 in 2009 (“Analyzing the Caterpillar Production System”).

In product design, the CPS is used for continuous innovation and adaptation to the needs of customers and the environment. In demand management, the system allows to make unbiased predictions and act in regards to maximizing the value delivered to customers. In quality management and process planning, the CPS is instrumental in delivering defect-free products and specifying the resources needed for improving the quality. Incapability building, the CPS maintains workplace values and enables the company to ensure the development of appropriate skills.

Lean Technologies: Intel

Intel is the key company supplying computer processes to such giants as HP, Dell, Apple, and Lenovo, and the scope of manufactured parts does not end there. In the recent decade, Intel has invested in the development of Lean solutions not only for increasing its manufacturing capabilities but also for reducing waste on such stages as Research and Development (R&D). When implementing Lean methodologies, Intel managed to eliminate waste “by reducing the idle time experienced by the researchers and engineers who implement the change while reducing the business process variation simultaneously” (Panat et al. 457).

Particularly, Intel implemented Lean Six Sigma (LSS), which established a systematic approach to R&D along with the assessment of the present state through planning a process, preparing a map to identify inefficiencies and waste, defining a realistic objective, taking actions for improvement, and documenting outcomes (Panat et al. 457). In terms of the real results of LSS integration, Intel reduced waste and idle time by 60%. Along with this outcome, the rate of stakeholder satisfaction increased without the need to compromise the technical accuracy during manufacturing.

When it comes to specific products, the manufacturing of microchips at Intel’s facility in Leixlip, Ireland benefited from the system. It made it possible for the company to reduce waste and set-up times and therefore reduce costs in the manufacturing of microchips. By introducing Lean, Intel developed to support not only for the company overall but also for its separate departments in Ireland. The support of a Lean system was important because without its implementation, up to twenty-five different product lines involving three hundred steps had to be managed.

Lean Manufacturing: Ford

While Lean manufacturing was first developed at Toyota, there are similarities of the system established at Henry Ford’s line assembly and manufacturing process. The key idea behind the Ford manufacturing system is the establishment of a standardized product that leads to the performance of standard processes. This guarantees that workers’ training is easier, and the procedures within the plant are optimized to meet the appropriate standards. With the introduction of the moving assembly line, the manufacturing takes place the way Ford expects; for example, workers can easily adapt to the speed of the conveyor without too much training or time.

Therefore, the Ford Lean system implies the harmonization of the work of machinery and employees. The Ford Production System (FPS) brought employees, materials, and mechanical resources in a timely manner to accomplish the established goals by reducing waste, costs, and fostering continuous improvement. The FPS was adopted in all FPS plants, and the company estimated that its savings would add up to $500 million per year (“What is the Henry Ford Production System?”).

Ford’s system is continuously pursuing perfection in all aspects of its business. From policy deployment to daily management, Ford integrates Lean principles every day. The FPS combines tools of improvement, cultural philosophy, and management subsystems. In regards to tools of improvement, they include mistake-proofing, Kanban, Just-in-Time, pull production, the 5S, load leveling, and visual workplaces.

As to the cultural philosophy, Ford engages in blameless management, continuous improvement, the development of people resources, and orientation on customers. Management SubSystems include such aspects as Quality Management Systems, team leader systems, Hoshin planning, coaching and human development, audit systems, and several others that make it easier to differentiate the objectives of various departments.

Works Cited

Opsmgt Edublogs. 2013. Web.

“Continuous Product Improvement.” CAT, 2018. Web.

Panat, Rahul et al. “The Application of Lean Six Sigma to the Configuration Control in Intel’s Manufacturing R&D Environment.” International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, vol. 5, no. 4, 2014, pp. 444-459.

Toyota-Global, 2018. Web.

Henryford, 2018. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Toyota, Caterpillar, Intel and Ford: Lean Manufacturing." July 20, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/toyota-caterpillar-intel-and-ford-lean-manufacturing/.


IvyPanda. "Toyota, Caterpillar, Intel and Ford: Lean Manufacturing." July 20, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/toyota-caterpillar-intel-and-ford-lean-manufacturing/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Toyota, Caterpillar, Intel and Ford: Lean Manufacturing." July 20, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/toyota-caterpillar-intel-and-ford-lean-manufacturing/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Toyota, Caterpillar, Intel and Ford: Lean Manufacturing'. 20 July.

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