The Machine That Changed The World – Book Review

The machine that changed the world is the classic book on Toyota, revealing its production the machine that changed the worldsystem as the basis for enduring success. It was written by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones after a five year and five million dollar study on the future of the automobile system. It transitions through the various types of production systems, such as Craft, Mass and Lean and shows the key points, plus the benefits and draw backs of each. It shows how as a Lean producer you combine the advantages of Craft and Mass production, while avoiding the high cost of Craft and the rigidity of Mass.
In the first few chapters the book provides significant detail on the origin of the different production systems and compares the benefits and stats of the different systems. At the time it was written, Toyota was half the size of GM and there was still debate around which production system was the best. Now Toyota has far surpassed GM and Ford, as predicted in the book and within manufacturing the Lean production system has been adopted across the world.
The second section of the book covers the elements of Lean production. It continually provides a comparison between a Lean and a Mass production plant. It shows how a Lean company has two key organisational features: It transfers the maximum number of tasks and responsibilities to those workers, thus actually adding value to the car on the line, and has a system in place for detecting defects that quickly traces every problem, once discovered, to its ultimate cause. The heart of the Lean system is the “work team” who can see the situation and are empowered and trained to improve it and resolve any issues. This section covered many other points and gave a detailed understanding of the different production systems across a factory, vehicle product development, and a system and sales and service network. It shows how Lean provides a better product and a wider variety at a lower cost, with challenging and fulfilling work for all employees. Showing again that Lean is a superior way to operate.
The third section of the book provides a vision on how the world can transition to this new way of working and outlines any obstacles that may get in the way. It challenges the common excuses why Lean will not work in the West.
In conclusion, this is the classic Lean book and deserves to be read by anyone interested in Lean and its comparison to other production systems. It gives great stats that show how Mass production could never compete over the long term with Lean production. It points the reader back to the key elements of Lean; of believing in and empowering people and resolving issues at the root cause. Since this book was published another classic has come out that is also worth reading called Lean Thinking.

If you would like a copy you can buy it through Amazon or Book depository.