Over twenty yrears ago Western managers visited Japanese companies to learn how they achieved higher quality at lower cost. In particular they saw in Toyota the use of kanban control of inventory, level schedules, authority given to workers to stop processes when problems were identified, waste reduction, close integration with suppliers and the use of quality circles. In 1990 Womack et al described the use of the first four of these elements in the automotive industry as “Lean Production”. Since then the Lean model of operations has moved out from the car industry into general manufacturing, distribution and finally into service industries.
BS1 Vol. 1, pp 545-579.
Womack, J. P., & Jones, D. T. (1994). From Lean Production to the Lean Enterprise. Harvard Business Review, 72(2), 93-103.
Taiichi Ohno (1978) Tovota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production