Best books to learn about manufacturing

We’ve done some burrowing to discover the top books every manufacturer should learn from. The list includes a variety of subjects, from the historical backdrop of manufacturing to future techniques and frameworks for producing stuff.

The Toyota Way

The name Toyota is synonymous with Lean Manufacturing. In factories around the world, Toyota consistently makes the highest-quality cars with the fewest defects of any competing manufacturer, while using fewer man-hours, less on-hand inventory, and half the floor space of its competitors. The Toyota Way, which won both the Institute for Industrial Engineers Book-of-the-Year grant and the Shingo Prize, dives profoundly into the rules that have made Toyota so effective. It incorporates reasonable thoughts that any maker can use to improve its very own business.

“This book will give you an understanding of what has made Toyota successful and some practical ideas that you can use to develop your own approach to business.” — Gary Convis, former Managing Officer of Toyota


Faster Better Cheaper in the History of Manufacturing

The industrial revolution, mechanization, water and steam power, computers, and automation have given an enormous boost to manufacturing productivity. “Faster, Better, Cheaper” in the History of Manufacturing shows how the ability to make products faster, better, and cheaper has evolved from the stone age to modern times. It explains how different developments over time have raised efficiency and allowed the production of more and better products with less effort and materials, and hence faster, better, and cheaper. In addition, it describes the stories of inventors, entrepreneurs, and industrialists and looks at the intersection between technology, society, machines, materials, management, and – most of all – humans.

“Brilliant insights regarding concepts of manufacturing systems for both practitioners and academics.” — Dr. Masaru Nakano, Professor at Keio University, former manager of Toyota Central R&D Laboratories


The Design of Everyday Things

This book applies primarily to the design area of manufacturing companies. Covering everything from designing production lines, machine interfaces, and maintenance equipment. The Design of Everyday Things illustrates how to improve these key parts of your production through design principals.

“Twenty-five years ago The Design of Everyday Things was instrumental in orienting my approach to design. With this latest revised and expanded edition, Don Norman has given me a host of new ideas to explore as well as reminding me of the fundamental principles of great and meaningful design. Part operating manual for designers and part manifesto on the power of designing for people, The Design of Everyday Things is even more relevant today than it was when first published.” ― Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO, and author of Change by Design


The Machine That Changed the World

The classic, nationally bestselling book that first articulated the principles of lean production. Authors Womack, Jones, and Roos provided a comprehensive description of the entire lean system. They exhaustively documented its advantages over the mass production model pioneered by General Motors and predicted that lean production would eventually triumph. Indeed, they argued that it would triumph not just in manufacturing but in every value-creating activity from health care to retail to distribution.

Today The Machine That Changed the World provides enduring and essential guidance to managers and leaders in every industry seeking to transform traditional enterprises into exemplars of lean success.


Lean Thinking

This bestselling business classic by two internationally renowned management analysts describes a business system for the twenty-first century that supersedes the mass production system of Ford, the financial control system of Sloan, and the strategic system of Welch and GE. It is based on the Toyota (lean) model, which combines operational excellence with value-based strategies to produce steady growth through a wide range of economic conditions. Lean Thinking does not provide a new management “program” for the one-minute manager. Instead, it offers a new method of thinking, of being, and, above all, of doing for the serious long-term manager — a method that is changing the world.

“Truly remarkable….The most comprehensive, instructive, mind-stretching and provocative analysis of any major industry I have ever known. Why pay others huge consulting fees? Just read this book.” — Philip Caldwell Chairman and CEO, Ford Motor Company, 1980-1985


The Goal

The Goal, a gripping novel, is transforming management thinking throughout the world. It is a book to recommend to your friends in industry – even to your bosses – but not to your competitors. Alex Rogo is a harried plant manager working ever more desperately to try improve performance. His factory is rapidly heading for disaster. So is his marriage. He has ninety days to save his plant – or it will be closed by corporate HQ, with hundreds of job losses. It takes a chance meeting with a professor from student days – Jonah – to help him break out of conventional ways of thinking to see what needs to be done. The story of Alex’s fight to save his plant is more than compulsive reading. It contains a serious message for all managers in industry and explains the ideas, which underline the Theory of Constraints (TOC), developed by Eli Goldratt.

“Anybody who considers himself a manager should rush out, buy and devour this book immediately. If you are the only one in your place to have read it, your progress along the path to the top may suddenly accelerate…one of the most outstanding business books I have ever encountered.”Punch Magazine


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