Flow Manufacturing -- What Went Right, What Went Wrong : 101 Mini-Case Studies that Reveal Lean’s Successes and Failures book cover
1st Edition

Flow Manufacturing -- What Went Right, What Went Wrong
101 Mini-Case Studies that Reveal Lean’s Successes and Failures

ISBN 9781138362291
Published November 21, 2018 by Productivity Press
570 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book tells 101 stories of company efforts to implement the many aspects of flow manufacturing -- including such topics as just-in-time production, total quality control, reorganization of factories into product-focused or customer-focused cells, plants-in-a-plant, material flows by the simplicity of visual kanban, supplier partnerships, quick setup of equipment, cross-training and job rotation of the work force, and many more. The 101 mini-case studies – dubbed "caselets" -- include 26 non-U.S. companies from 12 countries and cover a wide swath of industrial sectors, and include many well-known corporations such as Apple, Campbell Soup, Honeywell, and Boeing.

From the 1980s to the present, the author has been taking the message of process improvement and customer-focused excellence far and wide. Most of these travels, usually in connection with delivering a seminar, include brief factory tours in which he compiled detailed notes and then organized them as brief reports — his unvarnished analysis or take on what they do well and what needs improvement. In the main the reports were then sent back to the hosts of the plant tour. These factory tours and these follow-up reports form the basis of the large majority of this book’s caselets.

Many of the caselets bring to life process-improvement methodologies in detail. With lots of caselets to draw from, the readers will find vivid examples of similar companies and processes within their respective industries. For example, the caselets often include applications of advanced concepts in cost management, employee training, performance management, supply chains, and logistics as well as applications of plant layout, quick setup, material handling, quality assurance, scheduling, ergonomics, and flow analysis.

Table of Contents

Preface. Part I – 1980s. Part II – 1990s. Part III. – 2000s. Annotated Bibliography

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Richard J. Schonberger is an independent researcher, author, and speaker—offering management-development and research presentations to industrial, service, and academic organizations worldwide (since 1981, involving over 300 hosting organizations). Originator of world-class manufacturing, Richard is author of some 175 process improvement-focused articles in periodicals ranging from general business (Harvard Business Review, Business Horizons, Wall Street Journal) to academic and functional (Journal of Operations,Quality Management Journal, Interfaces, Industrial Engineer, Cost Management, Quality Progress, Manufacturing Engineering), and the following books and videos.

  • Best Practices in Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement: A Deeper Look . . . with Telling Evidence from the Leanness Studies (Wiley, 2008); Chinese translation forthcoming.
  • Let’s Fix It! Overcoming the Crisis in Manufacturing: How the World’s Leading Manufacturers Were Seduced by Prosperity and Lost Their Way (Free Press, 2001).
  • World Class Manufacturing—The Next Decade: Building Power, Strength, and Value (Free Press, 1996, 7 languages, 6 printings), 1998 Shingo Prize for manufacturing research – Chinese translation, (Simon & Shuster Asia, 1998); Taiwan Chinese translation (1999).
  • SynchroService: The Innovative Way to Build a Dynasty of Customers (Irwin: 1994 with co-author)
  • Building a Chain of Customers: Linking Business Functions to Create the World Class Company (Free Press, 1990, 5 languages, 28,000 copies sold).
  • World Class Manufacturing Casebook: Implementing JIT and TQC (Free Press, 1987, 30,000 copies sold).
  • World Class Manufacturing: The Lessons of Simplicity Applied (Free Press, 1986, 8 languages, 20 printings, 160,000 copies sold).
  • Japanese Manufacturing Techniques: Nine Hidden Lessons in Simplicity (Free Press, 1982, 9 languages, 25 printings, 160,000 copies sold).
  • 7 editions, Operations Management textbook – 7th edition (2007) translated into Chinese (Irwin/McGraw-Hill; 5 editions co-authored).
  • 12-tape video program, "World Class Manufacturing," acclaimed by Quality Digest.

Schonberger was a practicing industrial engineer for eight years followed by 14 years as professor in management information systems and operations management at the University of Nebraska, during which he was designated George Cook Distinguished (chaired) Professor; later as affiliate professor, Management Science, University of Washington.

Schonberger is on editorial boards of Benchmarking, Cost Management, Target, the Value Chain Management Conference (Austria), and the executive advisory board of the Shingo Prize. He is director of the "Global Leanness Studies" and the "World Class by Principles" international benchmarking.


"A new book from Schonberger is always an event for anyone concerned with ‘Lean’ or Flow Manufacturing. Dick’s latest book is no exception [...] Almost certainly, only Dick Schonberger could have written a book with such spread and so much wisdom."

Professor John Bicheno, University of Buckingham