Before I get much further into lean manufacturing, it’d be great if you could do some reading on your own ahead of time. The resources I’m using for the upcoming ZARA posting are online and free. The first two articles are written for a broad audience. All of them are well-written. If you can only read two things, grab the first two.
The first thing to read is an article from The Economist (print edition) from Jun 16th 2005, entitled The Future of Fast Fashion. I will be drawing on this material for many of my points. It is only with this material that I can illustrate that while ZARA is fast, there is still some slop in their system and they’re not running full bore. Meaning, ZARA’s not going to crash and burn anytime soon and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about them.
The second bit of material is Chapter 7 of Natural Capitalism. The chapter is entitled Muda, Service and Flow. It’s highly readable. The entire chapter is quoted and paraphrased (with permission) from the book Lean Thinking . It’s an introduction to waste in all its forms. The most basic concepts of lean manufacturing are reduced cogently and succinctly. If you never read anything else about lean manufacturing, read this.
Another level above the latter would be to read a synopsis of The Machine that Changed the World. Published by the DSMC or Defense Systems Management College, you can find that here. I am pleased with how well it summarizes the material in the book.
This last piece is not required reading but you may find it enlightening. It’s a “state of the industry” report from the National Academy of Sciences entitled U.S. Industry in 2000: Studies in Competitive Performance. Specifically I refer to the chapter regarding the state of the apparel industry prepared by the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy. It’s a broader sweep but you’ll learn the historic weaknesses of the systemic infrastructure of the industry, contributing to the apparel industry’s reputation as the dumb-bunnies of the manufacturing sector. I’ll bet you didn’t know that. Yeah, apparel people are considered to be kind of dumb by our peers in the broader manufacturing sector. ~sigh~
That is all. For now.