Henry Ford at Highland Park & Toyota
The very first car was developed by Henry Ford in the early 1900s. His company became a very successful automotive company owing to the novelty and convenience of the new contraption. Because of rising demand, Henry Ford needed to produce more at a faster rate to meet this demand. Similarly, Toyota Motor Company capitalized on the fact that the people where increasingly growing dependent on automobiles in the 80s and 90s. The success of the two companies could obviously be attributed to increasing demand of their products. It is believed that a growing market is the prerequisite for achieving excellent productivity. This assumption has been attributed to the success of Ford and Toyotas excellent production capabilities. However, it remains a point of contention as to whether achieving excellent productivity in the motor industry is dependent on increased growth of demand for the products. A company can employ various ways to improve productivity. Henry Ford and Toyota have employed various techniques to ensure increased productivity.
An important concept in enhancing production is Lean manufacturing (Taj & Berro 2003). The main aim of the lean manufacturing concept is to eliminate waste at all levels of production. This concept was well achieved by Henry Ford when his company started to increase production. In the realization that the old method of building one scar at a time was not enough to meet rising demand, Henry Ford built a factory in 1909 with a new mechanized assembly system that would build more cars faster (Brinkley 2003). In this sense, he was eliminating the aspect of wasting time while at the same time ensuring that the quality of the car was maintained. The Highland Park Factory was the first assembly plant for building cars. This system improved productivity exponentially. In the first year, the company made 19,000 cars and in the following year, production rose to 34,500 cars (Brinkley 2003). Therefore, The Assembly process was effective in increasing efficiency and producing standardized products.
Lean manufacturing also involves the concept of Five S (Taj & Berro 2006). The first S stands for sorted where manufacturing needs to be prioritized by eliminating the unnecessary stage in the production process. The second S stands for Straighten up such that time is not wasted while searching for things. The assembly process ensured that this was solved by ensuring that division of labor was utilized to avoid confusion in the work place. The third S is swept to refer to a manufacturing environment that is clean and organized such that machinery and individuals operating the machinery do not encounter obstacles. The fourth S stands for sustain. This means that a manufacturing process has to maintain its level of operations. The fifth S stands for standardize where standardization denotes the effective and efficient nature of the operations of the manufacturing process. Henry Ford and Toyota have understood these concepts well enough to ensure that the production levels in these companies are at optimum.
Another important factor in enhancing productivity is creating an organizational culture that fosters hard work and innovation among employees. For example, each employee needs to be accountable. This notion ensures that each employee is aware that whatever actions and or decisions they make affect the process of production. Therefore, each employee has to work more meticulously and take caution while working to ensure quality of the product. Toyota adheres to certain work principles that have been engrained into their organizational culture. Concepts such as ‘Kaizen’, employee innovativeness, employee empowerment and customer servitude are principles that have made Toyota remain number one (Magee 2003). Toyota’s focus in production is making cars for the future by anticipating future needs of the consumer, making quality the responsibility for everyone and ensuring that each employee is empowered to give the best for the company. These are concepts geared toward increasing the efficiency and productivity of a company. Increased productivity also includes improved quality for products and the ability for the products to meet the needs of the customer.
Improving the productivity of a company also involves good management skills that foster good employee relationships and willingness to be productive for the sake of the company. A company with a large umber of employees obviously needs a keen sense of management skills that provides direction and assistance. However, employees should be given the freedom to work and operate in their own way and employ measures that they may deem as the right and good for the company. The freedom to be creative keeps employees encouraged and motivated. Toyota empowers its employees and suggests that employees think about what they are doing in whatever stage (Gross & McInnis 2003). In this sense, the employees are inclined increase productivity.
The discussion with regard to efficient productivity and its relationship with growing market is interesting. Henry Ford’s motivation to increase the level of productivity undoubtedly lies in the fact that there was an increase in the demand for his Ford Model T. Henry Ford and his company was using the old method of production where each car had to be completed before moving to the next. This slow and tedious process wasted a lot of time. When the demand for the automotive grew, it was impossible for the company to match the demand for the cars and the rate at which they were being produced. It is because of this reason that the company resorted to the mechanized assembly concept that would ensure that the company would produce more vehicles for the growing market. In his regard, increase in the demand for cars was the direct result of increasing productivity.
This trend is the same for Toyota. Toyota has capitalized on the fact that consumers continue to look for reliable and affordable vehicles. There are many competitors existing in the automotive industry yet Toyota remains a preference for many across the world. The rise in the demand for reliable and affordable cars has been vital in the success of Toyota as a company. The company’s ability to foresee the needs of the consumer have been realized by the company’s ability to produce a wide range of vehicles from which a consumer can choose. To meet this rising demand, Toyota has various assembly lines across the world. This has made Toyota the third largest automobile company in the world. In the 90s, Japanese exports exceeded American car sales by significant margins. Toyota played an important role in achieving this (Magee 2007). Affordable and reliable cars were needed across the world and Japanese cars fit the consumer criteria.
While Henry Ford was intent on increasing the productivity of the manufacturing by increasing the capabilities in production of automobiles, Toyota in addition to assembly, have ensured that productivity is also about the quality of automotives they produce (Gross & McInnis 2003). In this sense, the company has given its employees the luxury of being creative and coming up with good cars that are loved by many. Nonetheless, one thing remains clear; achieving effective productivity is tied to the fact that there is a growing market for automobiles. The Highland Park Factory was created to increase output to meet market demand for the new invention (Wilson & McKinlay 2010). Toyota on the other hand, preyed on the fact that people wanted quality cars that were reliable and affordable. This concept ties in to an important economic reality that success of a business is dependent on the availability of demand and a company’s ability to deliver desired goods and services. Therefore, a growing market is a necessary precondition achieving efficient productivity.
Brinkley, D 2003, Wheels for the world: Henry Ford, his company, and a century of progress, 1903-2003, New York, Viking, USA.
Gross, JM., & McInnis, KR 2003, Kanban made simple: demystifying and applying Toyota’s legendary manufacturing process, American Management Association, New York, USA.
Magee, D 2007, How Toyota Became #1, Penguin, USA.
Taj, S, & Berro, L 2006, ‘Application of constrained management and lean manufacturing in developing best practices for productivity improvement in an auto-assembly plant’,International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 55, 332-345.
Wilson, JM & Mckinlay, A 2010, ‘Rethinking the assembly line: Organisation, performance and productivity in Ford Motor Company, c. 1908–27’, Business History, 52, 760-778.
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