Who is John Krafcik?

John Krafcik, the man who is credited for coining the phrase ‘Lean Manufacturing’ is currently the chief Executive of Hyundai Motor America. He joined Hyundai (a Korean family owned and run car company) in 2004 and has seen Hyundai’s (US) market share increase by over 50% and now controlling over 5 percent of the US market. In the UK Hyundai has a 3.5% market share.

Krafcik is a Stanford University Mechanical engineering graduate and on leaving university his first job was selling solar water heaters before going on to join Xerox. His first move into the automotive industry came when he joined a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors (Mew United Motor Manufacturing) building small cars for both companies. As part of this role he was able to travel to the Toyota City in Japan where he saw for the manufacturing methods employed by the Japanese. With these insights his next step was to get a masters degree in management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While there he saw a job posted on a bulletin board working as a researcher for James Womack, a respected leader in ‘auto plant productivity’ – he got the post and was able to tour car plants worldwide researching production methods.

It was in 1988 that Krafcik first used the phrase ‘Lean Manufacturing’ in his article ‘Triumph of the Lean Production system’ in the Sloan Management Review.
He used the term lean ‘because it uses less of everything compared to mass production – half the human effort in the factory, half the manufacturing space, half the investment in tools, half the engineering hours to develop a new product in half to the time’
The other thing that sets lean apart from mass production is the emphasis on continually reducing costs, and continually making the end product better with fewer defects and more consistency.

To read more about the differences between mass production and lean production read The Machine that Changed the World: The story of Lean production – the book co-authored by Jim Womack and that Krafcik was researching when he used for the first time the phrase Lean Manufacturing.

Continua strives to continually improve its own services and to help our clients work towards leaner methods of manufacturing.